Kim Peretz survived middle school. Now she’s a ninth-grader at Torrey Pines High School and has written a book called “Dani’s Diary: 7th Grade in a Nutshell.” The fictional story follows student Dani Gilbert whom Peretz calls “no ordinary 7th grader” through the trials and tribulations of middle school.
Peretz explains how she came to write the book. “I remember looking back at how nervous I was the few days before starting middle school. For me, my middle school experience was wonderful. It may have had its ups and downs, but I truly felt that I grew as an individual and discovered myself through this time. Always acquiring the passion to write, I looked for inspiration to spark my writing. Shortly after 7th grade began, I realized what story I wanted to tell—Dani’s story. The first year of middle school is not a piece of cake or as Dani might say ‘a slice of schnitzel.’ It requires much patience and kindness but is full of lots of memories and joy.”
The character of Dani goes through similar life experiences to those of Peretz, but she says the character of Dani was not based on herself. “Dani and I are very different. In fact, I think that when I developed her character, it helped me see many things in another person’s perspective. Overall, at this age, it may seem difficult to share your inner thoughts and feelings, but what made it easier is that I wrote this book about middle school through Dani’s eyes and her own experiences. It allowed me to be the observer through Dani’s perspective, which made it easier to develop Dani’s feelings and innermost thoughts. If I had written this story about my own inner feelings and thoughts, it would have been more difficult.”
Peretz kept her own diary during that time, which she used to inspire her fictional character. Another big inspiration was her parents, who have published several books themselves. “My mom, Nili Peretz, is the most intelligent, kind and well-rounded individual I know. She was the one who always recognized my love for writing and influenced me to write a positive, uplifting story. As for my dad, Gil Peretz, he mentored me post the writing process. He assisted me with all the logistics of publishing a book.”
The process of writing was slow but steady for Peretz. She carved out an hour of writing time every couple of days, working around her homework and extracurricular activities. She says dividing it into sections and chapters kept it from becoming an overwhelming task. But still, Peretz says the hardest part was the middle. “I find it ironic in my case because just as the middle of writing a book may seem the hardest, middle school feels exactly that way sometimes, too. Nevertheless, the middle of something is always the most eventful place for growth because it is the place you realize it is up to you to grandly finish what has begun. The hardest part taught me that when you are starting any journey, whether it is writing a book or surviving middle school, keep your head up and finish it off right.”
As for the “secrets” of surviving middle school, Peretz has her own insightful list which includes a measure of wisdom beyond her 15 years. They are: “Be kind and spread love, forget other’s opinions, stay true to yourself, distinguish real friendships and hold on to them, and remember a smile is the fastest way to connect to people.”
Although she does see more books in her future, Peretz says that right now she wants to focus on her other passions which include public speaking and improving human welfare. She’d like to devote the rest of her teen years to some pretty lofty goals – the rise of education for children around the world and stopping global poverty and hunger. “I hope to be able to work with other teens around the globe to make our society and world the best, most positive place it can be.”
Dani’s Diary: 7th Grade in a Nutshell will be self-published by Peretz in mid-May as an eBook and will be available on Amazon.com.