OVERRIDE

Not Much Just Chillin'

The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers

Linda Perlstein

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A report from the front lines of the most formative-and least understood-years of children's lives

Suddenly they go from striving for A's to barely passing, or obsessing for hours over "boyfriends" they've barely spoken to. Former chatterboxes answer in monosyllables; free-thinkers mimic their peers' clothes, not to mention their opinions. Bodies and psyches morph under the most radical changes since infancy. On the surface, they're "just chillin'." Underneath, they're a stew of anxiety and ardor, conformity and rebellion. They are kids in the middle school years, the age every adult remembers well enough to dread. No one understands them, not parents, not teachers, least of all themselves-no one, that is, until Linda Perlstein spent a year immersed in the lives of suburban Maryland middle-schoolers and emerged with this pathbreaking account.

The book traverses the school year, following five representative kids-and including the stories of many more-as they study, party, IM each other, and simply explain what they think and feel. As Perlstein writes about what she saw and heard, she explains what's really going on under the don't-touch-me facade of these critically formative years, in which kids grapple with schoolwork, puberty, romance, identity, and new kinds of relationships with their parents and peers. Not Much Just Chillin' offers a trail map to the baffling no-man's-land between child and teen, the time when children don't want to grow up, and so badly do.

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Not Much Just Chillin'
autumnchapter onei can't believe the day's almost overOn Monday morning some mothers drive their children to the bus stop, where they achingly resist the urge to hug their babies. Instead they settle on forehead kisses so quick as to be nearly invisible. One boy stands slumped, breathing in the muggy air slowly, tired from being kept awake most of the night by lingering images from The X-Files. A mom rolls up in a Suburban and leans out the window: "Brittany, did you remember your keys?" Brittany scrunches her face, mortified, and rolls her eyes to Mia. Mia's got on a
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REVIEWS

Praise for Not Much Just Chillin'

"Not Much Just Chillin' takes the reader to a mystical place - the changing world of the middle schooler - never before visited in this personal way. Every parent, teacher, principal and friend of an adolescent can gain useful insights from this book. Linda Perlstein has done a great service for education by spending a year with these boys and girls in their classrooms, homes and during their personal times and then eloquently chronicling their complicated lives."
--Richard W. Riley, former Secretary of Education

"Linda Perlstein has managed to embed herself in the lives and minds of middle schoolers, thoroughly capturing both the major issues and the minutiae that govern the course of these crucial years. A terrific read for parents and other adults who need to navigate along with them."
--Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls

"A fascinating window onto what goes on in the world and in the heads of middle schoolers. Linda Perlstein has a wonderful and compassionate way of presenting their incredibly poignant day-to-day stories. A truly valuable book."
--Anthony E. Wolf Ph.D., author of Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me And Cheryl To The Mall?

Reviews from Goodreads

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Available Formats and Book Details

Not Much Just Chillin'

The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers

Linda Perlstein

  • e-Book

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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