All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson is a realistic graphic novel that looks into the trials of middle school. The twist to the telling of the story is that our girl Imogene starts her middle school journey from years of homeschooling. And not only is she from a more free-spirited background to start with (i.e.: not fans of the pubic school system) her family are also some of the main performers and vendors at the local summer to fall Renaissance Faire.
Therefore, she already has the preconceived notions of the other students thinking “only carneys” are in that. And it is a little weird to pretend to be someone from centuries before, when kids are more worried about the cool new sneakers and who is in the popular crowd. And, well, only poor people live in the apartments Imogene and her family live in.
We also see how the kids at school have a mixed reaction to all of this. We see how Imogene’s personality changes as she tries to work around the ever-changing rules everyone already seems to know. She is aware of her economic status for the first time (a new friend lives in a mansion, she cannot afford hundreds of dollars’ worth of new cool clothes, and when she finds a cool pair of jeans in the thrift shop that “secret” comes out when everyone notices the stain shaped like Florida on them….just like the leader of the packs old ones). She does something mean to fit in and she even takes out her frustrations on her pesky, but beloved, little brother. All of this, and more, was perfectly real. This was middle school around the nation.
The only real complaint I have about this book is, it has been done before. We have read about junior high in several books. With that said, Jamieson does have a modern voice and style that will work for many different readers.