Too Intense for Middle School?

I just spoke to a young lady who said she wanted to read more books like A. S. King’s Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future. She a middle school student, a TA at her school’s library, she explained, and a parent had complained that Glory O’Brien was too intense for middle school, so the school librarian had asked her to read it (an excellent librarian gambit that was used on me as a youth). She agreed that it was too intense for middle school (to give you an idea, Rick Yancey’s review in the New York Times says “That’s one of the novel’s major themes, the meaning of existence. So are suicide, male chauvinism, consumerism, parasitism, identity, war, betrayal, friendship, depression, codependency, and probably a few others that flew beneath this reader’s radar in his mad dash to reach the end.”), but she loved it and wanted more. I gave her King’s I Crawl Through It, plus Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle (I explained: “It’s a guy book, but great.”) and Smith’s The Alex Crow. “They’re mind blowers, for sure,” I assured her, “and if you don’t like ’em, put them aside for a few years and try again.”

This is why you need all sorts of books at the public library: because there are definitely kids who are too intense for middle school, and they need a place to find books, too.