Why Being Kind as a Middle Schooler was Important for Pippa Park Raises Her Game

Oct 13, 2020 by Erin Yun

           
Now that we’re more than nine months into a global pandemic, some days are inevitably full of gloom for me. During those times, I find myself gravitating even more toward middle grade novels. Even though middle school can be a vicious time in real life, middle-school-aged characters in these books often show such compassion and capacity for growth that I always finish each novel with a little hope in my heart.

 

When I wrote my debut book, Pippa Park Raises Her Game, I wanted readers to finish the book knowing that Pippa was a character with a good heart . . . even if she sometimes has trouble showing it. That’s why, even though Pippa definitely makes some questionable choices in the first half of Pippa Park Raises Her Game, there comes a moment when she is forced to make a split-second decision between helping her friend and facing some harsh consequences, or following the rules but not her heart. Pippa decides on the former, putting her friend first, no matter the fallout.

 

It is a decision that is completely selfless, and even though she breaks the rules in the process, it was the most compassionate choice Pippa could have made. After all, kindness can be many things. It can be as simple as listening to a friend when they need you or giving away something you don’t need to someone who does. However, one of the most special forms of kindness comes from doing what you know is right even when (perhaps especially when) you know there will be consequences. Choosing to be kind isn’t always easy—in fact, sometimes it can be hard. But then again, sometimes difficult decisions are what help us grow as people.

 

At the end of the day, Pippa’s act of compassion doesn’t erase the other mistakes that she makes throughout the book. But we all make mistakes. That’s inevitable. It’s what we do after our mistakes that defines who we are as people. Pippa may not be perfect, but she does have the potential to grow into a kinder, more caring person—I know this, because we all have that potential. We just have to try our best to get there.