Like the chapter title says, this book is gonna be all about Rafe Khatchadorian.
And, if you hadn't guessed from the whole "tragic hero" thing, life isn't going so swell right now for Rafe.
At the moment he's sitting in the back of a Hills Village police car with his little sister, Georgia, and someone named and Leonardo the Silent. This is no kind of good.
But more on that later.
For now, Rafe's going to start by saying that he's decided to make this whole book to tell you the story about his miserable time in middle school.
Rafe doesn't trust many people with this stuff.
Maybe one person. His mom, Jules.
Or maybe one other person—Leonard the Silent.
Shmoop side note: this entire book is written by Rafe and filled with all kinds of amazing drawings. Rafe references them all over the place. In fact one of the first drawings is a picture of him arriving at "prison" (a.k.a. Hills Village Middle School for the first day of sixth grade).
There are lots of people Rafe can't trust at all, of course. #1 on the Do Not Trust list is Mrs. Donatello, who happens to be Rafe's English teacher. He just calls her the Dragon Lady.
There's also Mrs. Stricker, the vice principal. She sees all and hears all.
And, of course, his super bratty little sister, Georgia.
But what about you? Yes, you, the reader? Can Rafe trust you with his secrets?
The Middle School/Max Security Prison
For Rafe, Hills Village Middle School is pretty much a prison for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. And in prison you've either got to show you're tough or keep your head down.
Guess which one Rafe chose?
On the first day of school, Rafe decides to sit in the back of the room to stay out of the way, but the school bully—Miller the Killer—has other ideas. It seems like Rafe is sitting in his seat.
Rafe moves. Looks like that's Miller's seat, too.
Mr. Rourke, the homeroom teacher, isn't much help either.
He just yells at Rafe and the kid ends up sitting right in front of Miller the Killer…and gets his chair pulled right out from under him.
It's gonna be a long year.
At Least I've Got Leo
On the plus side, at least Rafe's got Leo. This kid's his best friend (not that's there's a whole lot of competition for the title, but still).
See, in this book, Rafe might get to do all the writing and storytelling, but Leo does the cool drawings.
And we've got to admit, they're pretty awesome. Nice work, Leo.
Rah, Rah, Rah, Yada, Yada, Yada…
That same day, after homeroom, Rafe gets shuffled into the gym for a big special pep rally event thing. Everyone is pretty psyched. Everyone but Rafe, that is.
Eventually, kids from every grade get up and start giving speeches announcing why they would be good candidates for student council. One candidate in particular catches Rafe's eye—Jeanne Galletta.
It's not just that she's pretty. She's seems kind of cool, too. And nice. And practically perfect in every way, Mary Poppins-style.
Rafe imagines that she might come up to him and offer to buy him fries. And Miller the Killer might choke to death on a peanut M&M and Mrs. Stricker would be forced to admit how awesome Rafe actually was. (Dream on, Rafe.)
Anyway, Jeanne definitely has Rafe's vote.
Those Oh-So-Cruel Rules
After Jeanne's speech, things go pretty downhill.
Mrs. Stricker passes out a thick book called the Hills Village Middle School Code of Conduct and then proceeds to read the entire book out loud to the entire assembly. All twenty-six pages of it.
Our brains are turning to oatmeal just thinking of how boring that must be.
Of course, as Mrs. Stricker reads, Leo gets to drawing. He starts doodling on all the pages. Finally he writes, "Rules are made for breaking," across the bottom of one drawing and Rafe gets an idea. A really, really Big Idea.
Well, it will be, if he has the guts to pull it off.