Book Review: Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick by Jennifer L. Holm

Happy Thursday my lovely peeps!
For once, I’m not looking forward to the weekend because this weekend, I’m planning on sitting down and doing everyone’s taxes 😦

But hey! I can’t wait to do some more reading because I’ve picked up some neato books and my TBR for 2023 is looking pretty solid so far. It may only be nearing the end of Q1, but this year has shown to be an interesting bookish year already!

For this week’s book review, I’m featuring Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick by Jennifer L. Holm and illustrated by Elicia Castaldi. Let me tell you, I never forgot the joy of the colorful first book even after all these years!

Title: Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick
Series & Book No.: Ginny Davis Book # 2
Author: Jennifer L. Holm
Illustrator: Elicia Castaldi
Genre: Fiction, Epistolary, Graphic Novel, Contemporary, Humor, Family, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Edition: Kindle
Length: 128 Pages
Published: 7 August 2012
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Amazon: [LINK]
Goodreads: [LINK]

Part graphic novel, part scrapbook and altogether original—New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Holm’s Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick is just right for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries and Babymouse!
Ginny has big plans for eighth grade. She’s going to try out for cheerleading, join Virtual Vampire Vixens, and maybe even fall in love. But middle school is more of a roller-coaster ride than Ginny could have ever predicted. Her family has just moved into a fancy new house when Ginny’s stepdad loses his job. (Can worrying about money make you sick?). Ginny’s big brother keeps getting into trouble. And there’s a new baby on the way. (Living proof that Ginny’s mom and stepdad are having sex. Just what she needs.) Filled with Post-its, journal entries, grocery lists, hand-drawn comic strips, report cards, IMs, notes, and more, Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick is the sometimes poignant, often hilarious, always relatable look at a year in the life of one girl, told entirely through her stuff.

I know I read the first book, years back, but didn’t realize there was a sequel until recently. All I remembered about this book was how unique it was. There’s no real words. There’s no dialogue, no paragraphs, no text and descriptions in the traditional book sense. Instead, what you get is a storyline and plot laid out for you all in the form of pictures. Imagine scrapbooking on steroids. Imagine and picture those Instagram pictures of people blogging their daily lives via stories. You might get a page of remotes, popcorn, sticky notes, and a can of drink followed by a picture of someone’s text/messaging window and in the background, you will see a folder. 

A bunch of pictures might not seem like a “story” but all of these pictures form a story even without typical narration. In Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick, Ginny Davis tells you a tale starting from the beginning of the school year, which might include a picture of the fridge, lined with calendars, a note from mom, and a real estate photo, followed by (pages later) a picture that has a student handbook in front of the toaster, along with school dates, followed by a picture of a locker, and another page with a picture of the school lunch calendar, and so on. The story, even if it’s only a snapshot of picture after picture, tells you a story of Ginny as she begins 8th grade, followed by her to-do list for the year, her brother getting in trouble, and parents going through financial trouble as well as herself getting sick for the whole titular moment. It shows you, through her poems (for class) and IMs to friends, her frustrations and joys. There are moments that, even without sentences, you can see how life is affecting Ginny such as watching her report card and grades slip from the beginning of the year, to the next quarter, and the next as well. You don’t need to know Ginny is feeling unwell when all you need is a picture of her copy of the emergency room report or a handful of “Get Well Soon” cards. You don’t need someone to tell you that Ginny’s brother is in trouble once again when all you need is a court summons picture. 

I know it doesn’t really feel like a “book” because of the lack of true words in the form of dialogue and paragraphs, but I absolutely adored the first book as a kid and loved this second book as well. The concept of a tale through a series of photos is so creative and I enjoyed trying to see every little tiny piece of detail that was included. I’m talking about looking at the design of the thumbtacks that holds the cheer team notices to the board, the different magnets holding notices up, the actual art and poetry included, the different menus and contents, and so much more to explore. If you thought that a fictional diary allowed you to peak into someone’s life, then try this book as well. Everything’s so colorful and it really takes experiencing it to really understand. 

I enjoyed this book greatly and, if you pick up a copy yourself, I hope you will too!


3 thoughts on “Book Review: Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick by Jennifer L. Holm

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