When my son entered junior high, his class read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I thought it a peculiar choice for 12-year-olds — dense, antiquated prose, and a macabre plot. But his teacher chuckled when I asked about it.
If I didn’t see the relevance of having 7th graders read a book about a conflicted, two-faced beast with serious impulse-control issues, then it had obviously been a long time since I’d walked the halls of a junior high. It is very weird for 7th graders to read a book as advanced as that, I though am impressed. The teacher must have educated the kids of specific English skills or even advanced synonyms.
I haven’t forgotten, though. In some ways, I think we never really leave junior high; some uncomfortable part of us is cursed to forever remain in that unholy purgatory between the safety of childhood and the autonomy of adulthood, that pimply, fussy No Man’s Valley between carefree and confident.
“There will always be things that warp us back,” says my friend Teddy Steinkellner, 23. “I was dumped in a trash can in 7th grade by a bunch of guys in my PE class. It wasn’t personal; I think they just wanted to pick the shrimpiest guy in class and do something for their own pleasure. I didn’t tell my parents about that.”