WHERE I BELONG for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Mary Downing Hahn. She’s had a prolific writing career that began in 1979. You may have read one of her titles without realizing there are many more out there to enjoy.  WHERE I BELONG is her 32nd book.where I belong

This story revolves around the voice of Brendan, a 12 year old boy who never quite fits in. His love of drawing and the woods, along with hair that never gets cut, leave him on the bad end of many threats and taunts. Hahn writes the character in a sensitive way and you feel for what this boy is going through. Themes of self-confidence, friendship, and bullying would be perfect for kids trying to deal with any of these issues.

This was an enjoyable, quick, and very memorable read.


FULL PLOT (From Amazon):  No one is kind to sixth-grader Brendan Doyle: his foster mother, his teachers, his classmates, and especially the thugs who bully him. He takes refuge in books, drawing, carving, and daydreaming. When Brendan stumbles upon an old man near his tree house in the Virginia woods, he is quick to believe that this is the magical Green Man, guardian spirit of the forest. Brendan’s need to immerse himself in his fantasy world becomes more acute, until he meets a girl with secrets of her own who may just keep his feet on the ground.


  1. I’ve met many Brendan’s in my classroom over the years. A square peg trying to fit into a round hole. No matter what you do it’s tough to break through the hard shell they hide in. This story brings understanding that when a child’s world on the outside is so bad homework is the least of their worries.
  2. Shea becomes the friend who serves as Brendan’s lifesaver. Their friendship is always on shaky grounds, but trust is what they both come to know.
  3. Books like these are tough to read. Bad teachers, a bad foster parent, and juvenile delinquents on the run. I only keep reading because I know in most MG books there will be a bright light at the end. I’m not crazy about this ending but know the character has changed for the better.
  4. The short chapters and sentence structure may appeal to reluctant readers.
  5. The forest is often an escape for troubled kids. I’ve spent more than a few weeks at an outdoor education camp where kids are in tears the day they leave. For Brendan it’s his outlet for growth.

FAVORITE LINES: I hope she really didn’t say that, I hope its not true, my mother didn’t take drugs, she didn’t, she didn’t.

QUOTE FROM AUTHOR: I played in the woods whenever I could when I was a child. That was one of the things I hated about leaving my childhood, was leaving all those long days exploring the woods.”


Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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9 Responses to WHERE I BELONG for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Sounds like an interesting book. Really like the quote you pulled out.

  2. I like the theme of this book. My heart goes out to kids who don’t fit in that round peg. So many are what I call creative sensitives. They have talent and if not guided, they can follow the wrong path. This sounds like a worthy read. Thanks for sharing.

  3. cleemckenzie says:

    You can never tell this story enough and I know this one will stand out as special. What an amazing cover and quote.

  4. Marlene says:

    Ah, I remember whole worlds I built climbing trees and imagining the treehouses I never had. Sounds like a good story.

  5. Joanne Fritz says:

    Love your new blog look, Greg. I hadn’t heard of this book (although I’ve read several by her) so thanks for featuring it. And I played in the woods all the time as a kid.

  6. jennienzor says:

    This sounds interesting. I really like books about kids escaping into the forest. His home life sounds heartbreaking. I’m really glad it has an up ending.

  7. I have read one book by this author. It was good, but not great. Maybe I’ll take a look at this one, but time is so short these days. Thanks for telling me about it.

  8. Andrea says:

    Intriguing! I love books about kids wandering around in the forest!

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