Study Guide

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Versions of Reality

By James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts

Versions of Reality

Reality is a funny thing. What's right in front of our face is real…but are the stories we tell ourselves to get through the day any less real?

Take Rafe for example. He's got a pretty active imagination and the stuff he comes up with throughout Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life helps him deal with his day-to-day life without being totally bummed out. He imagines his school is a prison, his teachers are dragons, and his dead twin brother is his best friend.

It may seem a little weird to us, but when you've got bullies at school and a wicked stepfather-to-be at home, you probably need all the help you can get when it comes to dealing with this thing we call reality.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. How is focusing on Operation R.A.F.E. another escape from reality for Rafe?
  2. Why do you think Rafe always imagines his interactions with his teachers as much more dramatic than they actually are? What's he hiding from?
  3. Rafe still talks to Leo after all these years—why? Do you think Rafe will eventually outgrow his brother? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Rafe's imagination gets most active when it's time for difficult conversations with his teachers. This is his way of shutting off reality and pretending that life isn't actually going as badly as it is.

It's possible that Jules is so sympathetic to Rafe's imaginary relationship with Leo because she may have one with him, too. After all, Leo was her son. She may also feel his presence in their lives.

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