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 Happens Online…Never Stays Online September 18, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:25 am

She is famous. Not just in her own mind or in her own school, but seriously, FAMOUS. At downloadleast in the online world of YouTube. Torrey Grey has her own channel talking about fashion, style and all the things in between. And for being a teenager, she has a huge amount of people following her channel. One thing though, is that her sister doesn’t particularly share her zest for clothing and all things fashion, but sometimes Torrey needs Miranda to film things for her videos. One day, while filming Torrey and her friend shopping, Miranda decides she’s had enough and leaves the store. Moments later, tragedy strikes when Miranda is killed by a drunk driver.

Now, online is the last place Torrey wants to be. Strangers are passing judgement on Torrey and many are blaming her for her sister’s death. Torrey knows her parents might be harboring similar thoughts as well. So the family decides to pick up and move across the country to start over. Torrey now struggles to make new friends and wonders how she’ll be able to tell if they are true or not.

Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner looks at guilt and how much we can ever really be responsible for someone other than ourselves. When is it time to accept life and figure out a way to move on, or not.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.

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Can You Escape Your Life? August 28, 2018

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:45 am

downloadXing Xing is the unwanted daughter from her father’s first marriage. Her father’s second wife had a daughter named Wei Ping and when her father dies, Xing Xing becomes a servant to the second wife. When her father was alive, he shunned the idea of binding young girls feet, in the common tradition. He felt women should be able to walk and move about, but once he is dead, the second wife can only think of making a fine marriage for her daughter Wei Ping. So even though she is much older than normal to bind feet, the mother does it.

Xing Xing is left to do all the work, since Wei Ping can no longer walk with her feet, and the Stepmother continues to treat Xing Xing horribly. Xing Xing’s only solace is escaping and talking with a fish she believes is her mother reincarnated and practicing her calligraphy when she can.

Then comes the cave festival in their town, but this year it will be different. For a local prince will be attending since he has yet to take a wife. Xing Xing only cares there will be a chance to recite a poem she creates. Yet, even with something exciting coming, it looks like she might not make it to the festival after all.

Bound by Donna Jo Napoli will become familiar to readers as a telling of another country’s Cinderella. Set in China at an indeterminate time, readers will understand Xing Xing’s frustrations with her limited world and root for an ending that will prove as wonderful as she is.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.

 

An Illegal Alien August 16, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:11 pm

Jasmine has to be perfect. She needs to get the right grades, she has to be involved in extracurricular activities, and she needs to take her cheer team to Nationals this year, and win! If it means sacrificing having a lot of friends, or any meaningful social life, so be it. After all, her parents didn’t come from the Philippines to give their kids a better life only to have those kids squander it, right? So Jasmine is out of her mind with excitement when she finds out she has been awarded a National Scholarship award which will give her a full ride to whatever college she chooses. She knows this is amazing, because her family would have struggled to put her through college. But when she excitedly shares the news with her parents, she learns an awful, horrible truth. Jasmine, along with her whole family, have no legal right to be in the United States. Suddenly, everything Jasmine has worked her whole life for dissolves. Who is she really, without all her accomplishments? Do they go away because she finds out she is considered an illegal – a term she hates?

As Jasmine has to figure out what her new life might look like, she mets a boy named Royce who at first seems to be everything that she’ll never have. Royce is rich, has his future set AND just happens to be the son of a Congressman who is against illegal immigrants. Yet, Jasmine and Royce are drawn to each other, even though the odds are clearly stacked against them.

Something in Between by Melissa De La Cruz is a great book for understanding the constant uncertainty that someone in the United States lives with as an undocumented immigrant. Especially seeing how children who thought they were in the country legally might feel, only to find out, they aren’t. And the romance is good too!

Recommended for 7th grade and up.

 

It Started with a Bus Ride August 5, 2018

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 2:50 pm

It seemed like another ordinary day for Eddie – in the ordinary village of Wellcome download-3Valley located in the middle of nowhere England. But when his school bus stops to pick up a new student – a girl named Scarlett – something in the day seems to shift. For reasons that Eddie can’t fathom, Scarlett is interested in him – well, interested in what happened to his mom, who died when he was just an infant in a car accident. Yet, when Eddie tries to ask Scarlett anything about her life, or why on earth her family is in Wellcome Valley, she shuts him down and tells him she can’t talk about it. Mystified and captivated, Eddie decides to accidentally run into her one day when he’s out riding his bike – in the rain – just in case she’s where she said she’d be. And she is! But she’s hiding behind their history teacher’s house and when he asks what she’s up to, she shushes him and they watch as the teacher digs up part of the backyard, buries a book, then digs it back up moments later in another part of the backyard!

Clearly, something is going on, and Scarlett knows what, but she won’t tell him! Quickly, though, Eddie finds himself caught up in a world he can’t fathom –  let alone realize he and his dead mother (or is she dead after all) might play a pivotal role in!

No True Echo by Gareth P. Jones takes the reader on a wild ride, through time and back again, snapping us quickly between them so that what is truth and what isn’t become increasingly  blurred. Great book for looking at different perspectives and playing with the idea of if there are alternative time paths, how can you determine which one is the real reality?

Recommended for 8th graders and up due to the complexity of the book.

 

Battling Everyone July 31, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 2:11 pm

downloadDarwin feels like he can’t catch a break. Like how his dad is in prison and his mom thinks if he attends a fancy school out in the suburbs, Darwin won’t end up following in his dad’s footsteps. But when the history teacher at his new school questions whether he actually wrote his paper himself, or when the kids all whisper when they see him, or when a kid approaches him to join a fight club, Darwin knows life is never easy.

Tap Out by Sean Rodman is a quick read and pulls the reader in to the big dilemma facing Darwin. Should he keep fighting and winning to earn money for his mom, or is the fighting only making life harder for him; to fit in, to move on, to feel good about himself.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.

 

Never Ending Loss July 26, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:14 am

At first he thought he was having a nightmare, that he was dreaming his apartment had been hit by bombs, like so many others in his city and that he would wake up and everything would be fine. But Tareq was living the nightmare. His apartment had been bombed, and his younger sister and brothers all killed, along with his mother and his grandmother. Only one sister and his father escape alive. Now they have to make a decision. Get out of the country they have loved, or face more death, even though there are no guarantees of safety if they do leave.

downloadTareq’s father decides they must leave Syria and journey to Turkey as the first step in fleeing their war torn country. However, they need money for this and they travel to a part of Syria that is controlled by Daesh fighters and there Tareq witnesses things he never thought to see in real life. And they haven’t even left the country yet.

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi is a hard and compelling look at the realities facing many people in the world today. What do you do when the country you love is fighting against itself and taking down the citizens? Where is safe in a world where many are scared of the refugees seeking asylum? This story is told by Destiny, and he/she looks at the world and knows the lives and struggles of the people and wonders how we humans can do such awful things to each other. This is a powerful book, and the story of Tareq and those he meets on his journey will leave the reader with a broader understanding and hopefully empathy for the plight of others in this world.

A strongly recommended read, but for students in 8th grade and older for the complexity of understanding Destiny is telling the story, as well as the nuances of the politics involved in this situation as well as some of the graphic violence.

 

Across the Years July 22, 2018

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:01 am

Two sisters who couldn’t be more different, a mother who never seems satisfied, and a father just trying to make his way in this big wide world. Sonia and Tara are used to moving – from India, to Ghana to Britain and finally to America.  It is there that many changes happen in their family. Sonia is finally able to confront their mother about how she treats their father, and Tara fully gets into her characters to help her fit in and realizes she can act like no one has ever seen before and well, life goes on.

downloadYou Bring the Distance Near by Mitali Perkins looks at a family in transition from their initial roots in India to their final settling place of America and all the trauma and triumphs that go with it. How do you fit in, and still feel like yourself? Is it even possible? And not only are the girls having their own issues, but their mother must find her own way to be herself in all these new and strange countries. And when the girls grow up and have their own girls, what challenges do the children of immigrants face that are different from their own mothers?

This book can be confusing at times and I would recommend sitting down and reading it for long periods of time, otherwise you will loose the thread of the story. There are a lot of nicknames for each of the characters in the book, which can also be daunting if you stop and start the story. As a reader, I was able to connect mostly with the last part of the book, which I enjoyed immensely. The book encompasses many years and as a result does jump in time so be prepared for that to happen.

Recommended for 8th grade and up because of the complexity of the story, not due to content. Really interesting look at the immigrant experience from many different perspectives.