Junior High is a tough time for people. In the process of working through who it is they are and who it is that they are going to become, they are often lost, confused, and have a lot of questions. Some of those questions they have, they don’t even know how to ask. It’s a confusing time. That’s why what Mark Oestreicher and Brooklyn Lindsey have done here is pretty spectacular. In their book, 99 Thoughts for Junior Highers, they have successfully captured the secret and not-so-secret questions that Middle Schoolers ask themselves on a regular basis.
The book is written for Middle Schoolers to read, and that’s clear to see. The introduction of the book starts off talking about wearing a bathing suit made of bacon while underwater in a tank of sharks–in short, it’s awesome. They are not trying to be someone they are not–they are honest and real in their reflections over their lives the questions presented. The book can be used in two different ways. While it’s meant to be given to a student and read on their own, some of it could also be beneficial to read through in a small group setting to reflect on the questions together. I would recommend, however, that you read through the book and select appropriate questions that match your group.
Brooklyn and Mark cover relevant topics to Middle Schooler’s lives. They go through questions about self, family, friends, faith, life, and priorities. Within the questions in each of these chapters are great insights and fun stories–like the time Brooklyn made up “cussing songs” with her friend that only used cuss words and was caught by her parents writing a colorful note to a boy. At the end of each of the chapters they have true short stories written from the Junior High versions of themselves. They are quite entertaining as well. Whether it’s Mark thinking that his leg hair grew better in the dark, or it’s Brooklyn wanting to buy defective jeans because they had holes in them, each story offers insight into the Middle School mind and ensures the reader that no matter how weird they feel, they aren’t the only ones. The thoughts and confusing feelings that they have are completely normal.
In conclusion, if you are taking a small group through the book, I would select which questions you would want to cover with them. My highest recommendation, however, would be that you put this book in the hands of each of your Middle School students.
Want to buy 99 Thoughts for Junior Highers?
Life for a typical junior higher is awesome. And hard. And fun. And exciting. And boring. And crazy, right? Basically, it’s a blur of all those things, and more! Junior High truly is a season of ups and downs, of possibilities and confusion, of amazing memories and embarrassing moments. To survive it all, you sometimes just need a little help, or 99 bite-sized bits of help!
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