Confessions: I hated middle school. I’m curious, did anyone love middle school? Let’s be honest with each other. If you put a whole bunch of recently hormonal pre-teens, who are all insecure, and all trying to figure themselves, and life out (not to mention external factors such as family, economic and physical stressors that come into play)- you have a recipe for disaster. However, reading about middle school in Chad Morris and Shelly Brown‘s recent novel, Squint, was far from a disaster, it was delightful.
” ‘My name is Flint, but everyone in middle school calls me Squint because I’m losing my vision. I used to play football, but not anymore. I haven’t had a friend in a long time. Thankfully, real friends can see the real you, even when you can’t clearly see.’
Flint loves to draw. In fact, he’s furiously trying to finish his comic book so he can be the youngest winner of the ”Find a Comic Star” contest. He’s also rushing to finish because he has keratoconus–an eye disease that could eventually make him blind.
McKell is the new girl at school and immediately hangs with the popular kids. Except McKell’s not a fan of the way her friends treat this boy named Squint. He seems nice and really talented. He draws awesome pictures of superheroes. McKell wants to get to know him, but is it worth the risk? What if her friends catch her hanging with the kid who squints all the time?
McKell has a hidden talent of her own but doesn’t share it for fear of being judged. Her terminally ill brother, Danny, challenges McKell to share her love of poetry and songwriting. Flint seems like someone she could trust. Someone who would never laugh at her. Someone who is as good and brave as the superhero in Flint’s comic book named Squint.”
The book had all the feels. It made me laugh and cry and smile the whole way through. The voice was spot on. The characters were adorable! I’ve never been a hormonal middle school boy, but being in Flint’s head through this book, I imagine that’s exactly how they are, it was fantastic.
Having Flint recite rules for middle school and rules for comic books, was an ingenious plot point. Not only were they entertaining, but they set the stage for us to see that, sometimes, rules are made to be broken.
I loved the story with-in a story. Using Flint’s comic book to mirror his hopes and his heartache was perfect. I especially appreciate that the story was real. They didn’t give him a super hero ending, they taught us that sometimes life doesn’t go like you plan, and sometimes we’re just as much at fault as the supposed bad guy, but “At times, it is our weaknesses that can make us better, let our light out.”