The Berrybrook Middle School series by Svetlana Chmakova is an interesting look at middle school. It is mostly realistic, though there are a few times when things conveniently happen or work out. A few characters roll over from the other two books in the series, but one does not necessarily need to know any book to read another.
In Crush (the third book in the BMS series) we focus on Jorge (seen in Brave and most likely Awkward due to his role as “Sheriff” of the hallways). Jorge has no time for the silliness of his fellow students when it comes to dating. He wonders more than once what happened to everyone? Why cannot things be like they were back in third grade? Everyone was friends, no drama and it was easy. It is easy for Jorge: he helps protect the kids the others pick on, he has friends in multiple groups, he plays baseball, he plays video games, eats lunch with his friends and he gets tongue tied when Jasmine is around.
Wait? What? Yes, our Jorge is not immune to “Pretty Girl Syndrome.” And all that includes. Including jealous boyfriends, friends who mean well but stick their noses in where they do not belong, what it means to be “pretty,” body autonomy and a school dance.
We follow the trials, tribulations, love, hate, fights, breakups, hookup, makeups, rumor mill, bullies and sabotage of middle school. Jorge is “the good guy” but even “good guys” can make an enemy or two. And when that happens, things really start to happen.
I almost wish the three books were one large book. Or there was a collection of all three. I also wish I had read Awkward first and not Brave. With that said, this gives me the perfect opportunity to start over and read book one and reread two and three.
There are unique illustrations that have a Manga feel to them. The occasional “Batman outburst” (whack, bam) comes out. And the facial expressions are pure anime. This helps counter the seriousness of the stories. Loyalty, friendships, enemies, diversity and more are all found in the BMS series.