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!

OCD, a missing millionaire, and more December 12, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — lpitrak @ 12:45 pm

Aza is in many ways a typical sixteen-year-old girl. She worries about saving for college, studies and hangs out at Applebee’s with her best friend Daisy, alternately loves and feels suffocated by her overprotective mother, and misses her father who passed away eight years ago. However, Aza’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) wracks her with unrelenting thoughts about germs, disease, and death, to the point that she feels that existing inside her body is like being inside an ever-tightening spiral. When Daisy concocts a crazy scheme to find a missing billionaire who is wanted for embezzlement in order to collect a $100,000 reward, Aza finds herself caught up in a twisted mystery with the billionaire’s lonely, poetic son Davis at the center. None of these distractions is enough, however, to stop the interior voices that threaten to take over her life. John Green’s latest is a sensitive, authentic portrayal of chronic mental illness.


Virtual Reality Gladiators

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — lpitrak @ 12:16 pm

Warcross is a virtual reality game, televised through smart-lens glasses and made available for anyone to watch for free. Because of this, it is a global sensation, and millions all over the world tune in every evening to watch Warcross players compete in gladiator-style combat. Emika Chen is a self-taught hacker and bounty hunter; she earns money capturing people who place illegal bets on Warcross fights. However, she is still heavily in debt due to her beloved late father’s gambling addiction, and out of fear of eviction, Emika tries to hack into the opening game of the Warcross Championships. Her attempt at stealing a virtual weapon that would sell for big money on the Warcross Black Market ends up entering Emika into the games; catching the attention of the young genius who created Warcross; and positioning Emika to spy on the Warcross champions. Hideo Tanaka, the young creator of Warcross, trusts Emika to spy on the champions to find information on who is stealing valuable Warcross secrets. But, Hideo does not know that Emika is really a hacker and thief herself. And Emika does not know how dangerous the world of Warcross really is until she is inside and it is too late to get out….


When Too Little is Too Little November 30, 2017

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 1:08 pm

Nothing seems tangible to Ivy anymore. With her parents divorce – one she didn’t see coming – Ivy watches as her mother becomes less and less in both spirit and in her physical presence. Ivy’s own body doesn’t seem to make sense to her anymore and her best friend Anna returns from her summer vacation different in a way Ivy can’t quite download-1identify.

Life seems to be spinning out of control and yet plodding along. If only she can figure out a way to control things, then maybe just maybe, life will make sense again. As part of having control, Ivy begins to watch what she eats and how it makes her feel when she eats. Soon, it becomes all too much for Ivy and her academic life begins to stuffer. All the things that used to mean something are fading away.

This Impossible Light by Lily Myers is a novel in verse that cuts to the heart of one girl’s experience with not feeling she is enough and have devastating the consequences of that belief can be.


Ghosts in the Graveyard… November 29, 2017

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 2:47 pm

It can be difficult moving to a new house and a new school. So Annie is worried when she starts school in September of 1918 that she might not make any friends right away. It turns out, she makes a friend too fast and that creates problems. After all, have you ever had someone want to be your friend and you don’t think you want to be theirs? A girl named Elsie immediately grabs Annie for herself and won’t let Annie go on the very first day. Annie doesn’t know quite what to think, only that the other girls in the class clearly don’t like Elsie and Elsie despises them right back.

When Elsie invites herself to Annie’s house the first night after school, Annie is horrified to realize that her new “friend” is very mean spirited, even without the other girls from school around. Elsie continues to dog her at school, and won’t let Annie have a moment free to chat with anyone until one week Elsie is sick and Annie is able to break free and forge new friendships. Much to Elsie’s dismay when she returns to school. When tragedy strikes, Annie feels shame in her role but it isn’t until one terrifying night in the graveyard that she realizes just how truly sorry Elsie will make her.

One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn is set during the horrible fall of 1918 when just as the Great War was ending, a terribly plague was racing around the world – the Spanish flu – which killed millions of people world wide, and took a huge toll on the United States as well.

This book is great for anyone who is a fan of ghost stories and of Mary Downing Hahn, who is true to form in this work.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Who Did IT? November 12, 2017

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 3:41 pm

Five teens that seem to have all had a prank pulled on them. One teacher that never allows phones in his class, finds phones on all of the kids- phones they say aren’t even theirs! Still, a rule is a rule, so they all get detention after school.

It is an unlikely bunch – the school drug dealer, the class valedictorian (or almost), the rising baseball star who will probably sign an MLB deal right out of high school, and the homecoming queen. Plus Simon. Simon is the interesting one. He, after all, knows all the dirt in the school. He knows stuff that no one else knows, and what makes it all crazy is that it is true. Simon publishes it all on a app that everyone has, so everyone knows all the secrets they shouldn’t.

No one understands why they are there. Until one of them isn’t. Simon has an allergic reaction and is rushed to the hospital…where he later dies. It turns out, someone must have slipped him some peanut oil – which he was deathly allergic to – with leathal consequences. Everyone in the room suddenly becomes a suspect.

And it turns out everyone had a motive because Simon was about to post a damaging message to his app that concerned all of the detention students. The question becomes, who did it, how and why?

Bronwyn, Addy, Nate and Cooper all find themselves placed under suspicion by the police and by their fellow students. Could one of them really have hated Simon so much that they killed him for it? As their lives begin to unravel with all that is revealed, it begins to look like there is no way to escape Simon, even after his death.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus is a fast paced suspense book that will keep you hanging till the end. Make sure you have a nice long weekend to devote to this book, because once it gets going you won’t want to stop. Recommended for middle of the year 8th graders and up. Enjoy! I sure did!


A Thousand Regrets October 23, 2017

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 11:12 am

He was a newer kid in town, but even though he was different, it was different in a way everyone liked download. Everyone thought Christopher Goodman was a cool guy, because he was just so nice and helpful to everyone, all the time. Some of the teenagers knew him better than others, and some didn’t know him at all. Still, when he’s killed the night of the local festival, everyone takes a moment to think of what could have been.

Doc, Lenny, Squib, Hunger, Hazel and Mildred all have dealings with Christopher – some more than others. But when he dies, each of them can’t help but think – what if? Could they individually have stopped the murder from happening? Could they collectively have done something?

Who Killed Christopher Goodman  by Allan Wolf is based on an event that actually happened to the author when he was in high school. To this day he still wonders if anything he did or didn’t do could have prevented the murder of the boy from his town. It haunts him decades later and this book will leave the reader thinking of all the “what ifs” we have in our lives, monumental and infinitesimal.

Recommended for 8th grade and up due to mature content.


A Letter from the Past October 18, 2017

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 1:52 pm

downloadON the anniversary of her father’s death, Claire likes to look at her father’s journal. This time though, she discovers a letter that was hidden in the binding of the book. Because it is written in Japanese – a language she doesn’t speak or write, but her father did – she isn’t sure what says. So she recruits her brothers and their friends to crack the code with her. What she doesn’t expect is to unearth a family secret – one that could very well put her and her family in harms way.

Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maetani takes readers on a ride through some Japanese customs and superstitions, as well as makes us all realize we might not know everything about the people we live with…that we think we do.

Recommended for 7th grade and up readers who are looking for an interesting mystery with a little romance thrown in for good measure.