Perlstein writes about a middle school in urban MD. My son's school is in rural Wisconsin. Despite the distance and the culture some problems rang true right here at home. Bored with school, frustrated with the curriculum, nothing to do on the playground, the social pecking order....it was all there. A statement I found interesting is that it is important an adolescent have a lot of mental stimulation and varying life experiences because it will have a positive effect on permanent brain development. In other words, you don't use it, you lose it. From my experience, profiles in learning does not seem to fit this physical need our kids have.
Reading the book I sometimes felt as if I was snooping in a journal or diary as Perlstein relates 5 middle schooler's experiences and feelings. On the flip side is the voice given to parents, teachers, and administrators. Sometimes I'd forget I was the parent and not the kid --I could relate so well to the experiences she documented.
This was suggested reading from my daughters middle school- some parts are interesting but it jumps all around-but worth perusing at least.
I read this book and thought that it was poorly written. The author has trouble stringing together cohesive thought, and is "all over the place" with her subject matter. I thought much of the book felt contrived and sensationalized.
I have no personal knowledge about the author, but I doubt she has children of her own.
After I read the book, my 14 year old daughter read it. She laughed and snorted all the way through. We talked about the book, and although she could see why parents might think they were gaining some real insight into thier kid's lives (as she put it, "this is what parents secretsly suspect or worry about"), she said the book is not true to life at all. She showed me several passages and pointed out why, she felt, the author "faked" some of it, or "tried to make things sound worse than they are". In other (my) words... contrived and sensationalized.
I have teenagers. I was a teenager. I'm close to my teen's friends. I'm close to my teen cousins, nieces, and nephews. Very little in this book rings true to me. I do think there is a great deal that parents should be worried about, but the problem these days isn't what the kids are doing. It's what the parents AREN'T doing. I usually love anything I read, and can find SOMETHING to appreciate in ANY book... but unfortunately, not in this one. I'm betting that if a parent instinctively WANTS to read this book, they are probably one of the better parents out there, being that most parents out there don't bother to parent. I would advise you to skip over this book, and look elsewhere for real insight.