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. If you would like to listen to booktalks of some of these books, please check out this site and enjoy!

The Grapevine of Gossip December 5, 2022

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-13Teddy and Kim have been together, well, it seems like forever. So when one day, just after lunch in their senior year of high school, Teddy asks a question that Kim isn’t prepared for, it throws everything off. And to a freshman named Phil Spooner who witnesses what appears to be the end of Kim and Teddy, he has to tell someone. Who better than Kim’s best friend who just happens to be walking by, moments later. That was all it took for the grand saga of what happened to end Kim and Teddy to start making the rounds and rounds and rounds of the school.

At first people can’t believe it, but then, everyone decides it is time to pick sides. Even the teachers get involved because these two were the “it” couple and who doesn’t have an opinion on what went wrong! As the whole situation gets larger and larger involving sayings, and even what people are wearing, pretty quickly people lose sight of the fact that no one seems to actually be asking Teddy and Kim what happened. And frankly, Teddy and Kim are honestly wondering the same thing. What did happen?

That’s Not What I Heard by Stephanie Kate Strohm is a fun and often funny look at what happens when our expectations get off track and how sometimes everyone has just a little too much to say about things that really, aren’t their business!

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Stalking 101 November 28, 2022

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-7He doesn’t really think it is creepy, even if his best friend Charlie, disagrees. He looks at it more as gaining life skills. After all, if he does someday want to work for the police or as a private detective, he will need to know how to watch people. So, no, he doesn’t really think he is stalking people, more just observing them…without them knowing!

So when Alden notices Greg Matthes (all American perfect guy) walking out of school one day looking seriously mad, he thinks he should follow Greg, just to practice his skills. Even though he has promised Charlie he will stop following people. What Alden never expects to see though, is Greg talking angrily with his girlfriend, Amy, and then he witnesses what he thinks is Greg hurting Amy…maybe even killing her!

Alden can’t believe what he’s seen! Can he trust his gut instincts that are telling him something is seriously off about Greg’s behavior and what about Amy? If she is dead, what did Greg do with her body? And why hasn’t anyone reported her missing?

Following by Jeffry W. Johnston is one of those suspense reads that will have you guessing, along with the main characters, just what is going on! If you are a fan of that type of book, this will be a great read for you.

Recommended for 8th graders and up.


Family Secrets November 21, 2022

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-11They are all mystified to be receiving letters asking them to come to the island owned by their grandmother. After all, she cut her own children out of her life years before any of them were even born. So why now, after twenty years has Mildred – as all three of her grandkids refer to her – asked them to visit her on her resort island? Milly, Aubrey and Jonah are all clueless. However, each of their parents is happy for them to become aquatinted with their rich grandmother. After all, maybe she’s had a change of heart and will put them in her will again. 

Milly, Aubrey and Jonah all have different reasons for wanting to connect with their grandmother, or avoid her as the case is for one of them, but they are all in the dark as to why their parents were disinherited all those years ago, when the cryptic message was delivered to them all stating they all knew what they had done. None of their parents appears to know what was done however, so the mystery has endured. Maybe the grandkids can figure out what did happen all those years ago. 

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus is another suspense novel by a writer who is fast becoming a fan favorite among my students. In this book, there are some good twists that even I didn’t see coming and I can usually pick up on them early on. Any mystery and suspense fans will enjoy this latest from McManus!


Blood Tells All November 14, 2022

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Blood is important in Mare’s society. It tells who has the power, and who doesn’t. And Mare’s family, theydownload-14 don’t have the power, or the money or the standing in society. Because their blood is Red. Not Silver. The Silvers have special powers that can make people do things, or even control elements.  Mare tries hard to make up for the fact she knows she is a disappointment to her family. After all, she has no special skills. She basically steals things since no one has picked her to be an apprentice. And that means she’ll follow in her three older brothers’ footsteps and head off to war once she turns 18, which is coming up fast. Still, at least her younger sister has a skill and she will be able to save the family, or so Mare hopes.

But when Mare finds out that her best friend, who she thought was safe from heading to war, has lost his apprenticeship, she is desperate to find a way to save him. When a way presents itself, the cost is huge, but Mare still thinks it might be possible. The problem is, she has no idea just how much she will have to pay in the end.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is the first book in a series that is both Fantasy and Science Fiction. Mare is thrown into a world she is unprepared for, yet must find a way to fit in or die. Or perhaps it would just be easier to bring down the entire ruling family? As with most beginnings to series, there are lots of ways the story could go. If you like impossible odds, and lots of twists this would be a good book for you!

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


One is Trapped, The Other, Running November 7, 2022

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

They made it through the desert but now, Sara is in a detention center in Texas hoping to get asylum indownload-4 the United States because she knows if she goes back to Mexico, there are people there who will kill her. Her brother, Emiliano has been hiding at a ranch in Texas after being rescued from near death in the desert. But he has a very important phone – a phone that Sara has been risking her life for, and now Emiliano’s life – because it contains information that could bring down a whole human trafficking smuggling ring being run in the United States.

Emiliano ends up going with his Father to Aurora, IL because Sara’s contacts tell him they will be able to get the phone unlocked and help get the information out that will save the poor woman who have been trafficked. However, once Emiliano gets to Illinois, it becomes clear that his father will do more to protect his new wife, than he will to help Emiliano and his sister. Who can Emiliano turn to when anyone who moves to help him might end up dead?

Illegal by Francisco X. Stork is a stark look at the ICE detention centers and the amount of hurdles that anyone trying to come into this county legally must go through. And it also highlights how so many people coming are escaping horrible situations. Emiliano learns that even people who may feel very strongly about his illegal status can see the human side of his plight.

Recommended for grades 8 and up due to complexity of issues.


Which Way to Go? October 31, 2022

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-3Stephen has some good friends, but lately, his best friend Dan, has been hanging out with his cousin, Chad. Chad, for lack of a better word, is pretty much a jerk and seems to be mean on purpose to Stephen. Any time Chad is around, Stephen just wants to leave. So when a bunch of Stephen’s friends hang out one day, and Chad starts to challenge Stephen to do something he isn’t comfortable doing, Stephen wonders if his friendship with Dan will survive since his parents always say people will pick family over friends.

As the days go on, Stephen begins to see that not only can Chad be a jerk at times, but he can also encourage the kids in the group to do things that begin to become dangerous. And Stephen is starting to see things in the world that he never thought about before, things that his dad thinks he should be prepared for, but his mom thinks he’s too young to know about. How is Stephen supposed to get his friend Dan to understand the attitudes that his cousin Chad shares are hurtful and not right?

What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado is a quick insightful read about how we all have different experiences growing up. Some are incredibly painful and some help us see who are friends are and how we can help each other become better people.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


More than Friends October 24, 2022

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Abby knows Codownload-17oper doesn’t like her “like that” after that disastrous discussion last summer, but it doesn’t mean she can just turn off her feelings. Still, she has to pretend, right? After all, she doesn’t want to lose Cooper as her best friend, and it will totally mess up their group of four friends. But two of those four are going away for the summer, leaving just Cooper and Abby. Abby and Cooper. Okay, she really needs to stop thinking anything will change.

So she will focus on her artwork this summer, in the hopes of getting into a special course at an Art Institute. That means the local art museum that she works at will hopefully showcase her work in a local artists show they have. But when the museum director looks at her work, he tells her she needs to grow, that her work lacks heart. Devastated, Abby sets out to learn how to get more “depth” into her work. So with the help of family, she creates a list – a list of experiences that will hopefully impact her artwork in a positive way. And who better to help her with this list than Cooper, her best friend?

Love, Life and the List by Kasie West is everything you want in a romance. West does a great job of creating characters we care about and want to see have that happy ending.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


It Starts with Fire October 17, 2022

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-8Things are changing in India in 1857. But it turns out, not fast enough for Meera. She longs to learn to read and write like the boys her father teaches, but she knows that isn’t something that her father approves of for girls. In fact, Meera is getting ready to go off and be with her husband, a boy named Krishna when she turns 13 in just a few days. She has been married to him since she was a little girl, but will go join his family now that she is older. Her parents believe in a fringe practice called sati, where if a husband dies before the wife, the wife will follow him in death by sacrificing herself on his funeral pyre. Meera was young, but she still remembers when her aunt had to do that after her uncle died. Still, she is young and her husband is as well, so she isn’t worried about this.

However, there is unrest in the state of India, and many are rebelling against the control of the East India Company, a British company that had been ruling over India for over a hundred years. Meera’s life gets caught up in that struggle. Can she figure her own way out?

Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame by Supriya Kelkar tells about how Indians began rebelling against British colonization in the mid 1800s. Of course, this is just the beginning of the process which would take another hundred years to see the country fully free. Meera is just a girl living with many of the restrictions and rules that were placed on girls and women, not just in India, but around the world. And, as we know, many of these oppressions still focus on women today.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Alone in the Woods October 10, 2022

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-7Beauty, as she used to be called when she was little, knows she doesn’t like life in town, even if her two sisters do. She struggles with the expectations of what life might and probably will be like for her. Basically, finding someone to marry, setting up a house and then having children. But, does she really want that? Or should she just accept that is what happens when you get older and grow up. Like how she used to be called Beauty, but now goes by Yeva, since that is a more proper name. Yeva still longs for those old days with her father when she would go hunting with him in the woods. But since her father became a respectable merchant and moved the family to the city, those days seems like such a distant memory for both of them.

When her father unexpectedly loses everything however, it appears the only avenue left to them is to return to the old hunting lodge and for her father to turn back to hunting. But he is much older now, and seems plagued by a mystery creature, or creatures that lurk in the woods. Yeva is concerned about her father, and when his dog comes back without him one night, she knows it is up to her to save him, or die trying. What she never expects is to find the creature that her father has been ranting about. And just what she will do to try to escape from him, once the creature has caught her.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner is a great retelling of the old fairytale Beauty and the Beast. This one has some different angles to it from some of the other stories out there and it adds to it. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys reading retellings of classic tales with new spins on them.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Completely Made Up October 3, 2022

Filed under: Humor,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

It all started with a comment. A completely inappropriate comment made by their physical educationdownload-6 teacher. One that Will was not going to let slide by, and of course, it meant that she got in trouble for it and ended up in detention. The worst part for Will was the fact that Harriet heard what the coach said to Ruby, and just gave him a pass. But that isn’t very surprising for Will because she knows Harriett is a total suck up to all the teachers at their elite high school in Australia.

But when Harriet shows up later that day in detention with Will (not because she got into trouble but because Harriett is trying to suck up to the teacher who is monitoring detention that day) they do strike up a conversation and shocker – Harriet admits that what the coach said was actually not very nice. And perhaps he is sexist. But then Harriet really throws Will for a loop. She tells Will if she is so upset about it, she should do something about it. The question is, what? What could Will do that would make any kind of a difference. And from that conversation, Amelia Westlake is born! And little do Will and Harriet know, but their collaboration will indeed change things at their school, forever!

Amelia Westlake was Never Here by Erin Gough is a fabulous book! I loved all the humor and all the ideas that the girls came up with to point out the foibles with their school. The book is for mature students since there is a lot of swearing and some mature content, but it is all realistic to the situations and the age of the characters. Start reading this book, and you’ll have a hard time putting it down!

Recommended for mature 8th graders and up.