My Miserable Life by F.L. Block
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Francesca Lia Block is not an author I'm significantly fond of, but she is an author of a number of well-regarded/important young adult books. My Miserable Life is her first foray into middle grade, and it definitely carries some of the darker aspects of what we've come to expect from her realistic fiction while not losing the appropriateness or realism of the genre.
For Ben, nothing seems right. He can't seem to win with his folks or at school, his sister isn't really great to her, he's being bullied, and so he lashes out as one would expect. The story is told through journaling, often with his teacher, and we get some insight into not only what hits him emotionally, but how he copes (or in some cases doesn't).
The book is good, but not great. It's more nihilistic in a sense than the cover or title implies, and there's not a lot of humor to offset the depression. While it ends on an optimistic tone, getting there can be a bit of a downer. I appreciate, however, the realism in this book. I don't feel as if middle grade really handles this sort of emotional despair well, and this one certainly comes closest.
Overall, closer to a 3.5. There's definitely an audience for this, although it might be specific kids who would respond to this the best.
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