Study Guide

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Genre

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Young Adult

It doesn't get more Young Adult than Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. Rafe's problems are the kind of things that have plagued young adults from the beginning of time (or at least since they invented middle school). Bullies. Family drama. First crushes. Bad grades. Getting in trouble for being an artistic genius.

Hmm. Maybe not all young adults go through that last one.

The main issue that Rafe has to face is ye olde coming-of-age crisis—you know, the issue that pretty much defines the YA genre. He's feeling some serious growing pains. But Rafe isn't just growing into an adult; he's also growing into an artist.

Quick German lesson, y'all: a coming-of-age novel is often called a Bildungsroman, which is just German for novel of formation. But Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life can be defined as both a Bildungsroman and a Kunstlerroman…which means novel of an artist.

And that puts this novel squarely in the company of other Kunstlerromans like A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (no surprise there, right?), Fun Home, and The World According to Garp. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life even shares some genre DNA with Pixar's Ratatouille …although, we have to say that being a rat in a Parisian restaurant sounds easier than life at Hills Village Middle School.

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