I had a group of seventh graders that had already read the novel the student teacher was teaching, so I pulled this group of five and we did enrichment. They flew through the novel I gave them before their peers were even half way done with theirs. I had a classroom set of After the Rain by Norma Fox Mazer. I saw this was on the list of recommended novels in our revised graded course of study, so I asked the group if they wanted to read this with me for the first time. They were eager.
Long story short--they hated it. We stopped in the middle. I have never done that before. I did plug through to the end of the novel to see what we were missing. It got slighly better, but I would never teach this novel in junior high. First, the main character was too old and at a different stage in her life for the kids to relate to her. She was a high schooler with boy issues--not an appropriate forcus for my Catholic school middle schoolers. Was this book about coming of age or about death? The focus was off. I could not relate to the flat characters.
I flat out did not find this book interesting nor well-written--even though it is an award winning book (a 1987 Newbery Award).