Middle School Angst in the Sunshine State, a guest post by Nina Moreno

Maggie Diaz is starting the seventh grade with three very big goals.

Illustration of Maggie with personality descriptors.

First, she wants her own phone. She’s twelve now and it’s way way past time. Second, she wants her bike riding privileges to extend past school so she can go to the park with her friends. Yes, the park by the beach. And noher Cuban American mother doesn’t want her right next to the ocean without adult supervision, but this is Miami, where everyone is right by the ocean. And finally, she wants her abuela out of her room. Living in a multi-generational home is one thing, but thanks to a new baby brother, her abuela is now her roommate. Maggie just wants to hang out with her friends after spending the whole summer apart. But both of her best friends have now discovered clubs and like…skills thanks to band and art club. And now they’re busy all the time and even have new friends. It’s making Maggie feel like everyone is leveling up except her. So…she comes up with a plan. She’s going to figure out her passion too, by trying out a bunch of clubs. And she’s finally going to get on honor roll to impress her parents enough to earn her some real independence. Because there’s no better time to define ourselves and figure it all out then seventh grade, right?

Wait. Right?

Join the Club, Maggie Diaz isn’t my first book, but it is my first one for middle grade readers. And while I have lots of experience being a moody, emotional, but stubbornly optimist Florida kid, I didn’t join many clubs. Or any really. I didn’t do sports outside of PE and I definitely didn’t have permission to ride my bike all the way to the park to hang out without my parents. Florida or not, my Latina mother did not trust me near the ocean unless she was there to watch me like a hawk.