Study Guide

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Setting

By James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts

Setting

Hills Village Middle School

Here's a shocker: a book called Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life takes place mainly in…a middle school.

But this isn't just any middle school: it's Hills Village Middle School. Hills Village Middle School is like the maximum security version of most middle schools…or at least it has a rulebook that could rival any Charles Dickens novel in terms of heft.

This is a fictional place somewhere in the modern day U.S. of A, but the authors don't give us a whole lot of info as to where it might be. But based on Bear's love for the Chicago Bears, it might be a pretty safe bet to guess that Rafe and his family are living somewhere in/near the Chicagoland area.

So what's Hills Village Middle School like? Here's how Rafe describes it:

Okay, so imagine the day your great-great-grandmother was born. Got it? Now go back another hundred years or so. And then another hundred. That's about when they built Hills Village Middle School. Of course, I think it was a prison for Pilgrims back then, but not too much has changed. Now it's a prison for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. (2.1)

That's a bit of a stretch. But Hills Village is really big on rules and regulations. No chewing gum in class. No pulling the fire alarm. No kissing in the halls. And definitely no vandalizing school property.

Luckily, while the teachers can be kind of boring sometimes, none of them are especially out to get Rafe or make his life miserable. In fact, some of them, like Mrs. Donatello, put a whole lot of effort into helping Rafe out of really tough spots.

But all that matters is that Rafe sees the place as "a prison for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders." It's mandatory, full of bullies, and doesn't allow for much freedom of expression or imagination.

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