Banned Book Club: Stuck in the Middle

Title: Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age

Published: 2007

Author: Ariel Schrag (Editor)

Challenge status: Included on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund‘s list of case studies. Book #22 on Summer of Banned Books ’13.

Why: In 2011 “Stuck in the Middle” was challenged in the Dixfield, Maine school district. It was kept on the shelves but students need to get parental permission before they can borrow the book from the library. The complaint cited language, sexual materials, and drug references. More info here.

First line: “Rebecca Ziff and I were best friends.”


“Stuck in the Middle” is a collection of short comic-style stories about adolescence. Some of them are poignant, others more simplistically banal, but they all share a certain awkwardness of emotion many of us remember from late-childhood/early-teenager-dom.

Most of the stories have some silliness and humor woven in, others are dark and foreboding. Almost all of them invoked the “I just don’t fit in” sentiment. Eric Enright’s “Anxiety”, simply drawn about a stressed out little boy, made me sad – as did some of the other representations of kids struggling to deal with bullies, poverty, or biology. Gabrielle Bell’s “Hit Me”, a depiction of kids with an unstable home life was well-done.

But my favorite was Ariel Bordeaux’s “The Disco Prairie Rebellion of ’81”. You get down with yo’ bad self, in your schoolbus yellow mullti-zippered pants and purple t-shirt, new-waving your way past the horde of preppies at your suburban school. Such a nice moment, even if just in a comic, when a person realizes that not only do they not fit in with the in-crowd, but they like their own path better.

What do you think?

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