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!

A Missing Mother February 19, 2018

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 11:58 am

For ten years, Sami has been haunted by the last memory she has of her mother. She said she would see Sami on Wednesday, but her mother never came back. Instead, Sami was found by herself, scared. But she doesn’t even recall that. All she knows is that her father is under suspicion for her disappearance. Every so often a post card arrives in the mail, appearing to be from Sami’s mother. Sami is frustrated and mad that her mother would just disappear and only send post cards once in a while. Yet her father has been faced with hostility from the community for years because of his possible involvement. In all the years though, Sami has believed her father had nothing to do with any foul play against her mother – even though they were divorced.

Now, however, Sami’s mother’s cold case file has taken a new turn. A body – possibly the body of a woman named Trina has been found. It turns out that Trina was once married to Sami’s father – a fact he never mentioned to her. Now, Sami begins to question her own father and if it would be possibly for him to be connected to not just one woman’s disappearance, but two.  Could it be that the man she’s been living with and loving for her whole life, is a killer?

Splinter by Sasha Dawn is a fast moving book that takes you on a ride! So many twists and turns happen in this book, it can be hard to keep them all straight! But because it moves along so quickly, you don’t feel too lost. This is a book that held my attention and that is saying a lot!

Recommended for mature 7th graders and up only because the text can get complicated at times.


The Klan Is Coming January 29, 2018

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 4:32 am

After the Civil War, the hope was for the country to come back together and become united. However, there were many from the Southern states who felt their entire way of life was gone and didn’t know how to rebuild it. The South was in a terrible state, in terms of how much of the area had been devastated by the war years. Many cities and towns were in shambles, much of the countryside had been pillaged by troops and crops and livestock had either not been kept up or were simply gone.  Add to this millions of freed people, most with little to no education or place to go, other than the plantations they had lived their lives on up until emancipation.

After Lincoln was assassination, President Johnson was sworn in. And though he was a Republican, he had sympathy for the Democratic South and halted much of the plans for reconstruction that the Republican congress had laid out. Into this mix came a group of Southern men who decided to start a “club.” At first it appeared the club might just be a lark, and a chance for them to get dressed up, ride around the countryside, and supposedly enforcing any laws that weren’t with the upheaval in the Southern states. Early on though, there were shaded of what it would become. downloadHowever, when Nathan Bedford Forrest took an interest in the Ku Klux Klan (which loosely translates to circle circle) the main focus of the group became keeping the newly freed people in the same position they had basically occupied during slavery. This meant massive terror for people who supported any Republican candidates – leading to disenfranchisement in voting, school teachers who were beaten and sometimes killed, churches burned and average citizens driven from their lands by force and brutality.

Finally, the U.S. government realized that the state governments either wouldn’t or couldn’t control the members of the Klan and stepped in.

They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The birth of an American terrorist group  by Susan Campbell Bartoletti is an amazing read about this organization which is still with us today. Knowing the history behind this group, and understanding all that they have done to many citizens of this country is plainly presented in easy to read nonfiction work.

Recommended for students in 7th grade and up.


Ms. Underwood’s Review of The Raft by S.A. Bodeen January 25, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — bhomel @ 10:31 am
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The Raft had my attention from beginning to end. The Raft is a quick read, following The RaftRobie as she survives at sea after a devastating plane crash.  Robie is very relatable and easy to follow. She is independent, hopeful, and resourceful.  Robie also has a care for the environment and animal welfare. You can still relate to Robie, even as her mental state starts to diminish.

This book will catch the attention of any reader from beginning to end.  It reminded me of my time in Oahu, the fear on every turbulent plane ride, and those moments of sheer determination in an emergency situation.


Mrs. Kennedy’s Take on The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — bhomel @ 8:52 am
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The GardenerMason is a teenager living with his single mother in Melby Falls, Oregon. He was mauled by a dog who ripped off half his face when he was five years old, and now bears the grisly scars that make him different. While visiting his mother at the nursing home where she works, he meets a beautiful girl. The girl longs to escape, and Mason is happy to help. Mason soon realizes that he is being followed and that he must protect the mysterious girl.

Their plight leads them to The Gardener, a man who holds the keys to helping the girl and ending starvation for humans. But at what price?


Mrs. Ferroli’s Review of The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — bhomel @ 8:42 am
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The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen is a fantasy/science fiction novel. It is told from the The Gardenerperspective of Mason, the male protagonist. I felt an immediate connection to Mason and therefore, I wanted to continue reading. I was able to read the book in three days so it was a quick read, but highly engaging. This book contained some romance, some action, and really causes the reader to think about how we have treated the planet in the past and what we can do to survive in the future! 


Ms. Spring’s Review of The Detour by S.A. Bodeen

The DetourWhen I first picked up The Detour, by S.A. Bodeen, I was skeptical. The cover shows a bunker-like scene: concrete walls and ceiling, curtains and rod framing a cement wall, empty plate and half full glass on the floor. (Can you tell I’m a positive person? “Glass half full” rather than “Glass half empty”?) I do try to give most things the benefit of the doubt, and I’m glad I did in this instance. The tagline of “She’s Rich. She’s Famous. And She’s Trapped,” hits it dead center. The main character leaves a lot to be desired in personality when you start the book. Livvy displays a self-centered, unappealing monologue of thoughts – all about how her predicament is not her fault.

Throughout the story, layers of her inward-facing shell soften to reveal how she has come to this point. The unfortunate circumstances she faces – being a captive of a vindictive former writer – show the reader and the character that nothing is ever as it seems on the surface. Not only does poignant and descriptive language invite the reader to continue to turn pages, but a few plot twists, as well. In the end, there are lessons to be acknowledged regarding our own paths and how we influence others. I highly recommend diving into this book. Be sure to allow a couple hours’ freedom to spend with Livvy in the padlocked, basement room.


Famous Fakes January 22, 2018

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:37 pm

We’ve all heard about Washington, Shakespeare and Confucius! But do we know the real Screenshot 2018-01-02 at 10.33.22 AMstory behind them, or only the legends that have grown up around them? Famous Phonies: Legends fakes and frauds who changed history by Brianna DuMont looks at all the stories we think we know, and pokes holes right through them.

For example, did William Shakespeare really write everything, or was it someone else? How can we find out? Or did Pythagoras really come up with the theorem we learn in school? This book will have you looking at all those stories, and thinking, maybe you should do some research for yourself and not believe the legend just because!

Recommended for 6th grade and up.