Space Station Seventh Grade (Space Station Seventh Grade, #1) by Jerry Spinelli PDFJerry Spinelli must have made quite a splash back in 1982 with his debut novel, Space Station Seventh Grade. I can imagine that he really opened some eyes with his almost unique use of such realistic dialogue as is commonly found in the book; there are scores of "Yeah? Yeah" and "Uh-huh? Uh-huh" moments in the dialogue that goes back and forth between his junior high characters, which is pretty much true to life. Speaking in full, carefully thought out sentences might be an excellent tool when it comes to communicating, but Jerry Spinelli understands that most people tend not to speak like that. As a result, the conversations that go on between the characters in this book may seem a little bit awkward at times, but it's a good kind of awkwardness.
Even "way back when", Jerry Spinelli was one of the most instinctively smooth writers I've ever read. His descriptions of the stars and moon at night are captivating, and no one else can so mesmerizingly paint the details of a first encounter with love. Jerry Spinelli writes what it feels to be in that situation, to experience all of the subtle, minute feelings that crop up when we come near someone we really like. There's just nothing like it in the world, and Jerry Spinelli is the best I've ever known at successfully transferring those sweet and unsure feelings onto the page.
Jason is a typical new seventh grade student, in almost all respects. He's no saint, and he deals with the same sorts of troubles that most students face as they reach the onset of junior high. He even has a "broken" family, complete with a stepfather and younger stepbrother, all of which cause him trouble at various intervals of the story. I think that most readers will zero in on the specific problems that best apply to them personally, but where we will all find ourselves drawn into the plot is when Jason falls hard for a popular cheerleader named Debbie. Jason isn't exactly in her social class, but he isn't going to let that stop him from trying to get her to notice him, and maybe even to like him in return eventually, if he's lucky. Who among us wouldn't go to the same lengths when struck by the nascent feelings of love? It's very, very easy to identify with Jason as he continues along in his seventh grade school year.
Many surprises and perhaps a bombshell or two later, we see Jason come out on the other end of this story. He may not have learned all of the important lessons that offered themselves to him (actually, he learned very few of them), but he's on his way to somewhere that he eventually wants to be. Where that is, exactly, it's impossible to say, but I believe that he is on the right track. That's good enough for now, I think.
I guess I wouldn't trade the chance to read a book by Jerry Spinelli for that of any other author in the world. I'm glad to have read Space Station Seventh Grade, and I hope that it continues to affect readers for years to come. Don't let go of the rare gift of a sweet story. I would give two and a half stars to Space Station Seventh Grade.
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