Friday, March 14, 2014

If You Have Middle-Schoolers, You'll Want to Check Out a.k.a. Genius



a.k.a. Genius
by Marilee Haynes
Boston: Pauline Media, 2013

The new line of Pauline Teen Books by Pauline Media promises to bring young people stories that “make you laugh – and sometimes cry, make you think and help you dream, and let you explore the real world.” If a.k.a. Genius by Marilee Haynes is any indication, this line of books is off to an incredible start. 

Haynes tells the story of Gabe, a student at St. Jude Middle School who has just found out that, according to test results, he is supposed to be a genius. There are a few problems with this –his second-best friend Maya is supposed to be the smartest kid in school and doesn’t take kindly to being upstaged, he can’t even get his locker open, and his father would much rather he be good in sports  than good in school. Meanwhile, he is asked to tutor Becca, a girl he likes so much he can barely speak in her presence, and his best friend Linc is trying to “woo” (his words) a girl named Rachel. There is a lot going on in the mind of a middle-school boy. 

Gabe, Maya, Linc, Rachel and a few other students all end up in a class for gifted students, nicknamed the G.A.S. class. Taught by a very cool Sister Stevie, the class is preparing to take part in an academic Olympics competition. 

Haynes has made a great splash with this debut novel. Unlike so many books in the Catholic Fiction genre, a.k.a. Genius is a story about real middle-school kids with real middle-school problems. While filled with elements of the Catholic faith, it isn’t overly pious or preachy. This is a book middle-schoolers would actually want to read, and laugh out loud while they are doing it. It is a Catholic “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” without the accompanying comics. A.k.a. Genius will make readers laugh and cry and teaches an important lesson about self-acceptance in the process. 

There are many books I have enjoyed, but there are only a handful of stories that I consider “awesome.” A.k.a. Genius is one of those books. 


1 comment:

Marilee Haynes said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful review! Reading it was certainly a major bright spot in the cold, rainy day we're having. I am so glad that you enjoyed meeting Gabe and all of his friends.
I'm also excited to tell that the sequel to a.k.a. Genius, Genius Under Construction, will be available in just two days!

Thanks again and happy reading,
Marilee Haynes

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