They called it junior high back then: grades seven, eight and nine.
It’s middle school now (six, seven, eight), but in either model, they’re tough years for a lot of young people, or so I’m reliably informed.
They certainly were for me.
My grandfather died when I was eleven, and his death pulled the fatal jenga block out of the tower that had been my family: The entire structure collapsed. I had been the fussed-over girl-child in a sprawling extended family of great-aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins, who gathered for holiday dinners. Suddenly I was the daughter of a single mother who, without her father, had a small nervous breakdown: She took to her bed and rarely left.