Are middle grade books even a thing?

The True Meaning of Smekday - Adam Rex

If you haven't figured it out by now, my other passion besides books are movies. I watched Home which came out last year and starred (the voices of) Jim Parsons, Rihanna, and J. Lo. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was based on a middle grade (I struggled over this designation) novel entitled The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. (Do you see where this post is headed?) Both storylines focus on a little girl named Gratuity "Tip" Tucci as she tries to find her mom in the aftermath of an alien takeover. The aliens are called the Boov and they've corralled the humans into a centralized location and taken over everything. This is where the similarities mostly end. The relationship between Tip and her mom, Lucy, is less than ideal. Her mother drinks a lot, is financially irresponsible, and relies heavily on her daughter who is only eleven. I appreciated that Rex wrote this in a matter-of-fact way. It's a reality that exists for many children and I think realistic relationships such as these are underrepresented. What's important is that despite all of that Tip is determined to find her mother so that they can be reunited. Of course, it's not as easy as that. She's in Philadelphia and the majority of humanity have been sent to Florida. She buys a car with the emergency savings they have in their apartment and sets out with her pet cat, Pig. (That wasn't a typo.) She meets a Boov named J. Lo (Firstly, it's a boy Boov which is awesome. Secondly, the book is actually dedicated to J. Lo and as mentioned above she voices a character (the mom to be exact) in the movie.) who enhances her car so that it hovers. They go on a rollicking, dangerous adventure to find her mom while dodging the Boov and another race of aliens called Gorg (actual race is Nimrogs but they are all named Gorg) who have also arrived to colonize Earth. Rex uses illustration in a clever way throughout the book. There are "polaroids" (pencil drawings) of different parts of their trip as well as comic strip illustrations from J. Lo with written explanations by Tip. It's a quick, fun read that I think would especially benefit reluctant readers. It had a lot of heart and touched on a lot of topics such as substance abuse, race, and loyalty. I really enjoyed it. :-D