Suddenly they go from striving for A’s to barely passing, from fretting about cooties to obsessing for hours about crushes. Former chatterboxes answer in monosyllables; freethinkers mimic everything from clothes to opinions. Their bodies and psyches morph through the most radical changes since infancy. They are kids in the middle-school years, the age every adult remembers well enough to dread.Here at last is an up-to-date anthropology of this critically formative period. Prize-winning education reporter Linda Perlstein spent a year immersed in the lunchroom, classrooms, hearts, and minds of a group of suburban Maryland middle schoolers and emerged with this pathbreaking account. Perlstein reveals what’s really going on under kids’ don’t-touch-me facade while they grapple with schoolwork, puberty, romance, and identity. A must-read for parents and educators, Not Much Just Chillin’ offers a trail map to the baffling no-man’s-land between child and teen.