Study Guide

Carl "Bear" in Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

By James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts

Carl "Bear"

You've heard of wicked stepmothers: the ones that are always up to no good, poisoning apples, refusing to let you go to the ball, and leaving kids to be eaten by witches that live in gingerbread houses in the middle of the woods.

That might leave you thinking that all that wickedness only occurs in the female of the step-parent species. And you'd be wrong.

Meet Carl, a.k.a. Bear. Rafe and Georgia's stepfather-to-be met their mom two years ago and now he lives with the family. He doesn't have a ton of points in his favor:

  • He's unemployed.
  • He owns a giant, child-mauling dog.
  • He sits on the couch and hogs the remote all day and all night.
  • He yells at Rafe and Georgia constantly.
  • He doesn't seem to care about anything anyone in the family cares about.
  • He never shares his soda.

Sounds like a real winner.

Bear's relationship with Rafe really starts to go downhill as Rafe ramps up his rule-breaking. Bear is convinced that Jules just needs to get tough with him and crack down on her kid to get him in line.

We're not 100% sure that's the answer. Rafe already hates rules, so we doubt more rules are really gonna help him:

"Does Leo have anything to do with this?"

I probably would have told her the truth, but Bear decided what he thought about it before I could even open my mouth.

"Again with the Leo thing?" he yelled at me. "I've had it up to here with that! I don't want to ever hear the name Leo in this house again, understand? You… freak!" (24.18-20)

Wow. Calling a twelve-year-old a freak? That's not exactly the way to make friends and influence potential step-kids, pal.

And then, of course, Bear finally crosses the line when he pushes Jules during an argument about Rafe. She's finally had it. This is the last straw. And we're seriously glad to see that she draws the line here, because Bear has already shown that he's willing to be verbally and emotionally abusive to Jules and her kids.

Honestly, it's really hard to feel sympathetic for Bear at any point in this story. He's a pretty one-dimensional villain. Luckily, he's out of the story before its (happy) conclusion.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, Carl.

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