Author: James Howe
Genre: Children's Novel
Age Level: Middle School
Rating: 4 Stars
The Misfits is what I consider to be an inspiring outlook on the daily trails and tribulations of a middle school outcast. What I enjoyed most was the light-hearted tone, and the way that the "Gang of Five" embraced their misfit personas, putting a positive spin on being the school outcast. A lot of novels about adolescents focus on an outcast searching for acceptance. The Misfits had a different spin, as the four main characters viewed their misfitting traits as positive gifts.
Putting topics such as homosexuality into a children's novel is something that I think is a great idea. Topics such as this are things that students are going to be exposed to, and I feel that Middle School students are of the appropriate age to begin mature discussion of such topics. Additionally, having feelings of confusing on sexual identity or other controversial topics alike are feelings that could very well begin at the middle school age, and having a relatable and realistic book such as the Misfits is something that could help students feel as though they are not alone. Although homosexuality is a controversial topic, as parents and students have various opinions and beliefs on the topic, it is something that students should feel comfortable discussing in a learning environment.
Another positive aspect of this novel that I enjoyed, was Addie's outspoken nature. Standing up for what one believes in is something is is incredibly hard to do at the middle school age. In my opinion, the middle school level needs more Addies (although the know-it-all attitude I could do without). Doing something as bold as refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance is something that could possibly inspire readers to stand strong for what they believe in, and follow up their beliefs with action that makes a difference- something that school teaches its students from grade to grade.
Overall, I found The Misfits to be a fun and light-hearted read that puts a positive spin on being an outcast. It is, in my opinion, extremely relatable to students of it's targeted age, as it touches on a number of issues that go on during the adolescent age. Growing up isn't always easy, but I think it is important to be able to show kids that they are all in it together, and no body is alone.