Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sixth Grade, by Susie Morgenstern

Margot describes the highlights of her sixth year of school in Provence. From the harder grading, to the critical teachers, to her unsympathetic older sister, Margot struggles with being a good student and wanting to be popular at the same time. She experiences a boy with a crush and boys who want to crush her backpack over her head. And, in the end, she manages to survive the year.

A rather disorienting novel for American readers who will find the cutthroat nature of French schooling (and its overly bureaucratized character) a bit of an anathma. This is actually a translation of an apparently highly popular French YA book, but apparently the key issues for French children involve dealing with teachers. Their peers and their parents don't seem to play nearly as central of a role -- at least as far as the novel's focus is concerned. Odd.

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