62 pages 2 hours read

Lisa Graff

Absolutely Almost

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2014

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Children’s Development of Identity and Self-Esteem

One of the themes of Absolutely Almost is that of identity—specifically, how it develops in adolescence and how this process impacts a child’s self-esteem.

The very first chapter has Grandpa Park calling Albie a “rock.” This is not the only label that Albie contends with. He self-proclaims himself an “almost,” owing to his consistently being “almost” good at things. He also deals with name-calling from Darren, the most common epithet being “dummy.” These labels and their insult to his self-worth come from two sources: his parents and his peers.

For a 10-year-old child, parents still hold great influence; at this age, friendships and peer groups increase in importance, and a middle-schooler must balance expectations that are often contradictory. In the beginning of the book, expectations of parents or other adults seem to hold the greatest sway over Albie. The list of all the ways he has been an “almost” include his failures to meet the expectations of either a teacher (not being ready to use markers at art time in kindergarten) or a parent (not being ready to walk the dog in first grade). Albie continues to miss the mark with his parents, as Mom criticizes his reading log and

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