I happened to catch this book while browsing other graphic novels and comics online. I can’t believe I never heard of this one before this year! As a middle school teacher, I know that daily life in school is awkward, and this book brings my middle school days back to life. Awkward, by Svetlana Chmakova, was published in 2015, but the plot took me back to 1980. Middle school has always been the same — unfortunately awkward.

The main character, Penelope (Peppi) is new to Berrybrook Middle School. What does she do on her first day? She breaks Cardinal Rule #1 for Surviving School (Don’t get noticed by the mean kids). When she trips over her own feet and falls into the quiet boy, Jaime, she definitely gets noticed. Talk about embarrassing yourself on the first day of school! How she handles herself after that is even worse, though.

Next, she tells herself that maybe she could follow Cardinal Rule #2 for Surviving School (See out groups with similar interest and join them), instead. She makes new friends in the art club, all the while re-living her awkward moment with Jaime, and trying to think of a way to reconcile. Later, when the art club and the science club face off in an all-out war, middle school lives are turned upside down.

If you’re a middle school fan (like me — crazy as it seems), check out Awkward. I have also ordered the sequel, Brave, about a boy named Jensen. I can’t wait to see what happens next at Berrybrook Middle School.