Books in the Middle: Reading for Middle School

Our focus is on books middle school students might like to read and topics pertaining to books for these students, and we are giving recommendations. Teachers, librarians and middle school students are the contributors to this blog. Enjoy!

What Do You See When You Look Up? April 15, 2014

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 8:30 pm

Eden doesn’t star gaze much, well, really at all. She leaves all that up to her best friend Connor. They’ve been friends forever. Growing up in England on the coast her whole life, Eden has several close friends, but no one special, other than Connor.

One day though, close to the end of her final year of school, a new boy arrives at school. His name is Ryan. Right away, Eden finds herself fascinated imgresby this boy and by how strange he can be at times. For example, the first day in lunch, he doesn’t recognize pizza. Eden thinks this is very bizarre, since hello, who doesn’t know what pizza is? As she spends more time with Ryan, she falls more in like with him. However, after a visit to his house one afternoon, everything Eden thinks she knows about the world and even her best friend Connor, changes.

 After Eden by Helen Douglas is a romance with a nice twist. What would you give up for the person you love?

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


What Constitutes a Tragedy? April 8, 2014

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 11:24 am

imgresWhat makes something tragic? Is it different for everyone? Tim has never viewed his life as tragic, per se, however, as he heads out to begin the last semester of his senior year of high school at a new boarding school, he has to come face to face with the idea of tragedy. First, because it is a major school assignment to write a tragedy paper for his English class. And second, because he thinks he’s fallen in love for the first time, and the girl of his focus already has a boyfriend.

It all starts with a plane layover in Chicago due to a snow storm. Tim, who is pretty closed off from others, is shocked when he seems to make a connection with a beautiful girl named Vanessa. She doesn’t appear to be put off by the fact that Tim is an albino. They have an amazing time but Tim isn’t sure how to react when he realizes that Vanessa is going to his school. He believes everything will change once they arrive at school, and Vanessa is back with her boyfriend, Patrick.

Once at The Irving School, Tim struggles to fit in, more because he is so focused on trying to connect again with Vanessa than due to students shunning him. Tim can’t figure out Patrick, who appears to at once reach out to him, and at the same time push him away. When Patrick includes Tim on the preparations for the traditional senior Game, Tim is parts thrilled and parts skeptical. Why is Patrick behaving this way toward him, when it is clear Tim likes Vanessa?

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban looks at what it means to want something so much but at the same time, see it slipping through your fingers. Tim’s story is told in a series of CDs that have been left for the next senior who will have his room. As Duncan listens to what happened to Tim months before, he begins to examine his own life and how he might be able to learn from Tim’s mistakes before it is too late.

Recommended for mature 7th graders and up.


What lengths will you go to face your fears? April 5, 2014

Title: Panic

Author: Lauren Oliver

Genre: Realistic, Mystery

Overall, this is a fantastic, cleverly-written and intense story of a game called Panic. At the beginning of the text, many characters are introduced, but once you get further into the piece, it makes it easier to put all the story lines and relationships together.

Panic is a secret game that has occurred for many years in the poor town of Carp, basically stemming from the boredom of nothing to do. Seniors are the only ones that can enter the game, which follows a series of death-defying activities and games where the last man standing is proclaimed the winner of cash collected from each student at Carp High (each paying a $1 a day during the entire school year) and the title of Panic champ.

imgres-2Each chapter follows the storyline of the various characters intertwined focused specifically on Heather and Dodge and we first begin with Heather. After having her found out that her boyfriend cheated on her, she decided she didn’t have anything to lose and joined in on the games. Their first competition to show their seriousness was Opening Jump taking place the day after their high school graduation where they were expected to face their fear and jump off a cliff into the nighttime abyss.

Dodge is the next character we meet who has a specific agenda as to why he wanted to join in on Panic, which had to do with his sister’s accident that was caused by this very game.

Nat, or Natalie, Heather’s best friend also joins the mix. After having completed her Opening Jump, she spoke with Heather and the two decided they would split their winnings if either ended up the Panic champ. Nat also made the same alliance with Dodge, without his knowledge, that she really hadn’t planned on following through with. Along with Nat, the character of Heather’s male best friend, Bishop, who seems to always be there to help Heather and the others out whenever possible.

These are the main competitors that are followed throughout the competition, as they work hard to help one another out as the time continues and they face their individual fears along the way. Meanwhile, no one knows exactly who is creating these different games and plots, but they do intend on finding out, especially after an officer was killed during one of the Panic activities.

I could not put this book down, as there were many different twists and turns along the way and story lines that I wanted to see through. This intense book will definitely leave you satisfied at the end, while having fulfilled a successful understanding of each of the main characters. Lauren Oliver does it again with this standalone novel!


Can a boy and a girl truly be JUST friends?

Title: Better Off Friends

imgres-1Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Genre: Realistic Fiction

After having read all of Elizabeth’s books including The Lonely Hearts Club, Prom & Prejudice, Take a Bow, and Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, I was incredibly excited to read her latest Better Off Friends. Macallan and Levi become best friends instantly. Although Macallan is still dealing with the heartache of her mother’s death, she is slowly able to let Levi’s friendship in. Throughout their time in middle school, people are constantly asking them if they are dating, yet they haven’t even explored the idea.

As the two enter high school, they do begin to date other people, and even still they are constantly fielding questions about their relationship. The question is, will these two stay just friends, or will they become more than friends, like others have speculated?

Elizabeth creates a very realistic scenario that many high school and adults can attest to in having close friends of the opposite sex. As the story continues, Elizabeth goes an excellent job in intertwining perspectives of both Macallan and Levi throughout the story to enhance the overall text structure and perception for the reader.


What happens when an email is sent by mistake…

Title: This is What Happy Looks Like imgres

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Genre: Realistic Fiction

An unlikely relationship begins to ensue via email when Graham accidentally sends a message to Ellie. Without knowing anything about one another, they continue to chat over email as time continues. These two teenagers are on opposite sides of the country and couldn’t be more different.

Without knowing it, Graham takes a job within Ellie’s small town in Maine and the two finally end up meeting. However, without having told one another about certain information about their lives, will the two really be a good match and find happiness?

This is a very cute story, not only about love, but about finding yourself and your own happiness. Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight continues yet again to create believable characters and a plot line that you won’t be able to resist!


Taking Over a Dead Girl’s Bucket List… March 18, 2014

1-Goodbye-Rebel-BlueRebecca Blue does not fit in at Del Ray high school.  Raised by her professional photographer single mother, Rebecca (aka Rebel) grew up on the road chasing the perfect photographic happenings throughout Central and South America.  When her mother is tragically killed, however, Rebel moves in with her aunt, uncle, and Cousin Pen… all of whom seem impossibly tight-laced and perfect.  The one constant in Rebel’s life is now detention, where one afternoon she connects with perky, passionate, civic-minded Kennedy Green.  For their detention assignments, the two create Bucket Lists.  Rebel’s is full of jokes and dares, while Kennedy’s is full of ideas to make the world a better place.  When Kennedy is killed in a car accident eerily similar to the one which killed her mother, Rebel decides to complete Kennedy’s Bucket List.  Can Rebel choose to save endangered species and perform Random Acts of Kindness, without losing her sense of the artistic, free-spirited wanderer that she has always been?


Can Love Endure Over Multiple Centuries?

Filed under: Fantasy Books — lpitrak @ 12:32 pm
Tags: , ,

The winner of the 2013 Printz Award, Midwinter Blood, is a wildly imaginative exploration of folk ritual, human connection, and enduring love.  The book opens in 2073, when Eric Seven travels to the isolated island of Blessed.  He is a reporter who has been assigned to uncover the secrets of a rare breed of orchid flower, which seems to give the island’s inhabitants eternal youth.  Nothing is as it first appears, however, and readers are taken farther and farther into the past through seven fantastic stories connected with this ethereally beautiful, but dangerous, island.Image



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