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'The Misfits' Author Discusses Middle School Life With Briarcliff Students

James Howe, author of “The Misfts,” spoke with Briarcliff Middle School seventh-graders.
James Howe, author of “The Misfts,” spoke with Briarcliff Middle School seventh-graders. Photo Credit: The Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District 30

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. -- James Howe, author of "The Misfits," led a discussion of his book with seventh- graders at Briarcliff Middle School.

The book was a summer reading selection for the students.

For the last several years, seventh -grade students at Briarcliff Middle School have started the school year with a discussion about some tough topics, including bullying, acceptance and self-identity.

After reading the book, students were able to reflect on what makes them similar to or different from their peers. When they met with Howe, they got to discuss the themes and how they tie into the culture at the middle school.

“The kids always love his visit and really enjoy talking to him and asking him questions,” middle school librarian Katherine McCabe said of Howe.

Howe asked students to discuss topics such as self-expression, sexual orientation and the variety of interests that students hold in the school and how they affect fitting in.

According to Howe, “My daughter went through a hard time in seventh grade, struggling socially and being excluded. The main reason I wrote the book was her.”

His daughter’s difficult experience, along with his own social struggles in school, served as inspiration for “The Misfits” and the book’s four main characters.

“[Howe] is very comfortable talking about things that the students may be uncomfortable with, like bullying and differences,” McCabe said.

“And it gets them thinking in a different way. It’s a great start to the year," he added.

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