All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Imogene has grown up with a rather unconventional lifestyle. Her parents are part of the local Renaissance Faire; her mother has a shop to sell her crafts, her father performs as a knight in the jousting match, and this year Imogene is finally going to be allowed to start playing the role of squire. But that's not the only change in Imogene's life. This year, after being homeschooled all her life, she is going to start middle school, and middle school is definitely a place where you don't want to be different.
Imogene struggles to learn the rules in this strange new environment, and finds herself a bit lost. Her attempts to fit in backfire, and she ends up hurting a friend, as well as her little brother, as things spiral out of control. Will her family and friends ever forgive her? And will she ever find her place in this strange new world called middle school?
I really liked Jamieson's previous book, Roller Girl, but I think I liked this one even more. They are both excellent books that deal with angst of tweendom, but I think I related to Imogene's experience a little more. Not that I grew up in a Renaissance Faire, but I do know what it's like growing up poor, not having the "right" brands of clothes and shoes, and having trouble fitting in and feeling like an outsider. Jamieson captures those feelings perfectly. While cliques and snobs abound even in adulthood, nothing is quite as bad as middle school.
As I have mentioned before, while I recognize the value of graphic novels, they really aren't my thing and I don't read them very often. But if one is really well done, I can get past the format and really enjoy them, and this is definitely one of those. I think any middle-schooler could relate to this story, and I would recommend it to any of them, but especially those who like graphic novels, or are open to trying them. I wish more parents and teachers would recognize the value of graphic novels and not discourage kids from reading them, especially since they are such a great way to reach reluctant readers or those who are more visually oriented. Fans of Roller Girl, El Deafo, and Raina Telgemeier's books will love All's Faire in Middle School as well.
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