Quiz: Get In Touch With Your Middle School Self and Get a Book Recommendation

Sarah Hannah Gómez

Staff Writer

Formerly a school librarian, Sarah Hannah Gómez is a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona, studying children's and young adult literature with a minor in social, cultural, and critical theory. Find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Clubhouse @shgmclicious

Merci Suarez Can’t Dance by Meg Medina

Dancing makes Merci Suárez almost as queasy as love does, especially now that Tía Inés, her merengue-teaching aunt, has a new man in her life. Unfortunately, Merci can’t seem to avoid love or dance for very long. She used to talk about everything with her grandfather, Lolo, but with his Alzheimer’s getting worse each day, whom can she trust to help her make sense of all the new things happening in her life? The Suárez family is back in a touching, funny story about growing up and discovering love’s many forms, including how we learn to love and believe in ourselves.

Ahh, middle school — that time in your life you probably wouldn’t relive even for a million dollars. The first time you have different teachers for each subject. When you have a mix of classmates you grew up with and new kids from other schools. When every day it feels like your body has some new horrifying development to contend with. When your best friend is also your worst enemy, and meanwhile the kid you never spoke to turns out to share all of your interests. When you’re just old enough to know how the world works and yet too young to be allowed to do anything about it.

If you’re an adult and you hear the phrase “middle schooler,” you likely have one of two strong reactions: AHHHHH!!! or AWWWWW. Or both. Strangely, my memories of middle school are so awful, so depressing, that I actually loved working with tweens in my professional life. I think I felt like I had the chance to mold all of those kids into the kind of people I would have wanted to go to school with.

Still, I don’t want that time back for myself. You couldn’t pay me to walk into that building if I were parched and it had the only water for miles. Reading about middle school, however, is wonderful. These days, there is so much marvelous middle grade and lower YA literature out there that I have every hope that Zoomers and…Quaranteens? will fare better in reading and in life than the Millennials and Xers before them.

So. Are you ready to bust out that yearbook and cringe at your Von Dutch hat, popped collar, Tamagotchi keychain, half-unbuckled denim overalls, LipSmackers, Air Jordans, flannel plaids, or Uggs? In this quiz, you’ll revisit the good and the bad parts of your middle school self, and then it’ll spit out the perfect recent tween read for you. For more, you can tune into our Kidlit These Days and Hey YA podcasts!