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!

7th Grade Student Blogger – Erica A. April 24, 2014

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Romance,Student Book Reviews — oneilllibrary @ 9:15 am

Pirates Captain’s Daughter by Eve Bunting

I definitely recommend this book! Even if I totally hate the cliff hanger ending. Anyways, this book is about a 12 year old girl who just had her imgres-1mother pass away. She also figures out that her father has been hiding who he really is this whole time. A pirate captain. So since he has to go back to his ship, Catherine decides (instead of going with her aunt) to come aboard his ship. Well, women aren’t allowed on the ship. So Catherine finds herself aboard “The Reprisal” pretending to be a musician boy. It’s all going well till she meets an attractive boy aboard the ship. Then things just go down hill from that. And like I said it’s a very good book except you never know if she dies or not which really annoys me. So if you’re like me and hate cliff-hangers stray away from this book!


8th Grade Student Blogger – Haley G.

Filed under: Humor,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Student Book Reviews — oneilllibrary @ 8:23 am

It’s a Funny Kind of Story by Ned Vizzini

Craig’s best friend is Aaron. Aaron knows almost everything about Craig. They’ve known each other for what seems like forever. However, there are a few things that Craig has kept from Aaron. Craig seems to love Aaron’s girlfriend. He has liked her for a while. It kills him to see them together. But, there is something else that Aaron doesn’t know.. Craig is depressed. Often, he finds himself thinking about taking his life. He cannot keep his food dimgresown, and he has dreams about jumping off a bridge. One day, he finds himself thinking about suicide. Though, it’s different this time. He wants to do it. He has an urge to do it, to follow through with the thoughts he has. This scares him, so he calls a Suicide Help Line. The police come, and he is committed to a Mental Help Center. Will Craig be able to rid himself of the pain that has burdened him for so long? Or, will he remain to be captivated by pain?

Recommended for 8th grade and up.



Some Secrets You Can Live With…Others You Can’t April 17, 2014

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 12:48 pm

imgresCharlotte is bored. Bored of the endless parties and visits she is expected to attend being the daughter of a Lord in the stuffy, rigid British society of the early 1900s. She feels like she’s missing out on life. Her mother seems to have no ambitions for Charlotte other than to be married off quickly, to the highest Lord who will offer for her.

One day at a garden party, where Charlotte is trying to avoid the man her mother seems to be forcing on her, Charlotte’s friend Fran spots a girl making her way around the edge of the party, heading toward the woods. Fran is incensed that a servant would have the tenacity to shirk her work load during a party no less, and decides to follow her to find out what she is up to. All Charlotte can think is how wonderful it would be to slink off herself. She and Fran confront the girl, with Fran doing most of the confronting, and shoo her back to the main manor house. But it gets Charlotte thinking about all the things she will miss when she is summarily married off in a year or two.

Janie is annoyed. If she wanted to sneak off for a moment to cool off from the stifling heat of the kitchen, it shouldn’t be such a big deal. Still, she loves her job, being close to her mother, the head Cook at the Manor, and doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize her position. Even conversing with the handsome footman, Lawrence, could lead to problems, and a possible sacking if she isn’t careful. So when Lady Charlotte shows up in the kitchen, wanting to talk with Janie, she knows this can only lead to problems, and she’s right. Throw on top of that a visit from Charlotte’s long lost Aunt, and things really get interesting. Turns out there is a big secret the Manor has been hiding, for years.

Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore is a wonderful period piece which has a little of something for everyone. It is set during a time when servants and their masters were beginning to see a change in the once rock solid fabric of society in Britain. Being content to be a servant, or a member of the lower class wasn’t good enough anymore for many people. Having to hold to the suffocating restrictions of the upper class wasn’t much easier for many. Charlotte and Janie must navigate through this minefield if they are going to come out unscathed on the other side.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


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.



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