Book Review: Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child

Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child
By: Maria T. Lennon
Published by: Harpercollins
Release date: August 27, 2013
Genre: middle grade realistic
288 pages
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

I’m up for the occasional middle grade read, and since Harper was kind enough to send me this book, I decided that this would be a great quick read for my Boxing Day relaxation. I was interested because it features a female middle child, like me. The blurb touted this as a funny read about a kid who had messed up and was finding her way back from the dark side.  If it could lend me any hints about how to help students do just that, it was definitely worth my time, so I jumped in.

Our heroine is Charlie C. Cooper, 7th grader. Charlie suffers from a smart, perfect older sister and a pretty-faced little brother. Charlie’s strengths are fashion and computer-related. Her downfall is her wish for popularity.

We join Charlie on the last day of her summer vacation. She has spent the summer reading self-help books about middle children, and visiting her psychiatrist. Both of these, as well as the family’s move to another city, are directly related to a serious bout of bad behavior on Charlie’s part, which resulted in her expulsion from school.

One of my favorite things about this book is that it clearly illustrates that bad behavior does not signify that the person is thoroughly bad. What Charlie did at her last school was bad, without question. At the beginning of the book, Charlie was not a child that I would want my own daughter around. She is a diamond in the rough, and with some guidance and opportunities to make better choices, she shines right up. Charlie is a sweet, lovable girl by the end of the book, one that I would be glad to invite into my home. I love that children will be able to read this and see that they are not doomed by bad decisions, but can start over whenever they choose.

I enjoyed reading Charlie’s story, and will be encouraging my own daughters to read it as well. For girls in upper elementary and middle school, I think this read is a great choice.


It's Mean Girls for tweens in the tradition of Paula Danziger's Cat That Ate My Gymsuit and Judy Blume! Watch out, world: here comes Charlie C. Cooper-computer whiz, reformed bully, and so-called middle child-in this seriously funny debut tween novel from screenwriter Maria T. Lennon.

Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child stars the hilariously cheeky reformed bully and tween hacker Charlie Cooper as she tries to ditch her middle-child reputation and make cool friends at her new school in Los Angeles. But being cool isn't as easy as it looks. Charlie has to face down the mean girls and decide between right and wrong once and for all when she learns the terrible truth behind Marta the Farta's bad attitude and loner status. And Charlie has to do it all in outfits meant for the runways!

Maria T. Lennon has created a fresh and fun story that brings Mean Girls to the tween level, peppered with snarky asides, major attitude, and advice to spare from Charlie-whether you asked for it or not.

Check out an excerpt:
"Her name was Marta the Farta, and you could see her from space, she was that bad. She had a beard, teeth the color of butter, and a nest of hair that defied gravity and provided homes for small animals; and yes, she loved to fart. But she was also the most talented gymnast I'd ever seen in my life. We're talking Olympics time. So anyway, this is the story of how I changed her life, and yeah, all right, fine, how she changed mine."


  1. I really enjoyed this story, especially the amount of growth Charlie experienced throughout the story. I liked how she grappled with doing what's right and doing what would be best for her image. I didn't like Charlie at all in the beginning either. But by the end I would have been proud to have her as my daughter's friend.


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