Because we’re all 12.
Were you bullied at 12? I bet you remember that bully’s name. I bet you could tell me what his face looked like, or the color of her hair.
Did you ever feel awkward? I bet you remember where you were and what that felt like. You can still feel the sweat on your palms and the weight on your chest.
Were you ever left out? You can describe what that was like. The party you weren’t invited to, the lunchtable with no chairs.
Did you ever feel alone? Like the world moved around everyone but you, and you couldn’t tell anyone because you didn’t really understand it? You just felt … incomplete, maybe. Or different, even if you didn’t seem different. And you weren’t sure what made you different, only that everyone else seemed to know a secret and someone forgot to tell you.
Did you ever want to disappear? Maybe for a day, maybe for a lifetime, because life felt too complicated, too awkward, too lonely. And grown-ups told you that you still weren’t in the “real world,” and you had to wonder: If this isn’t real, what is?
Does it make your heart sink, even now, to remember 12?
When you felt bullied, awkward, left out, or alone, did you ever disappear into a book? And for that page or that chapter, you were in another world—one that made more sense, or felt more genuine, or invited you in, warts and all?
That’s why I write middle grade.