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101 Ways to Bug Your Friends and Enemies is a book written by Lee Wardlaw based on the life of a middle school child and all the problems he has to undergo. The book is a composition of interesting adventures of the main character, Sneeze, his conflicts with the bad guys in school, love and pranks that he experiences during his life in school. Sneeze’s life story has been told in the language of a middle school student in order to make it even more relatable. This review summarizes various aspects of the book including the characters and the important situations that make up the life of this middle school child.
Stephen “Sneeze” Wyatt is an eighth grader whose life offers him a lot more than he can handle. Sneeze, who was given the nickname due to his many allergies, is a genius and this motivates him to invent gadgets despite the fact that they fail in most occasions. Sneeze takes high school classes despite him being in middle school. His life is surrounded by a lot of complications including a bully from the high school golf team who wants to make his life miserable, puppy love and his friends acting weird all of a sudden.
The book begins as he comes back from a trip to California where he had gone with his parents to present his “Nice Alarm” to a manufacturer in the Invention Conference. The alarm functioned by waking up its user by two gentle taps rather than through the use of noise. Unfortunately, the manufacturer was not interested in the invention and as such he has to go back home and tell his friends about this.
At school, he takes high school classes, which makes his relationship with his friends as well as enemies very complicated. His relationship with his best friend Hector “Hiccup” (a hypochondriac) becomes flawed due to various events. For one, Hiccup accidentally kills Sneeze’s fish in the aquarium as he was trying to clean out the green algae using bleach and household cleanser. Another argument arose when Sneeze was looking for a solution out of P.E classes. The only other solution that he could find as the martial arts class whereby Hiccup accused him of trying to steal the girl (Joonbi) who he had planned to make his girlfriend. Joonbi has a liking to Sneeze compared to Hiccup.
Amidst all this, he discovers that he is in love with his second best friend Hayley; she makes his heart race and he gets a tingly sensation on his fingers when he touches her. Unfortunately, Hayley has a crush on a Hawaiian high school student, Cullen, who is a member of the high school golf team. Regrettably, Cullen does not even know that Hayley exists (Wardlaw, 2011). Due to this, Sneeze comes up with a plan whereby he sends Hayley e-mails that are supposedly from Cullen.
Another major conflict in Sneeze’s life is balancing his life in school as well as his life in and out of school. He realizes that his hapkido class greatly interferes with his job which he deeply loves. However, he finds a way of working this out too. In addition to that, he discovers that he has to take P.E classes in middle school. This means that he cannot take the computer design class which he had intended to take in high school.
The storyline in this book is easily relatable by any middle school student. It provides real situations in a comical way and lightens the mood of the rather sad events happening in Sneeze’s life. We learn of his supportive parents and friends who eventually help him in making the right decisions and having his life on track.