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!

Can You Really Hold Someone Down? January 10, 2013

imgresThe book Pinned by Sharon Flake struck home for me, perhaps because I’m a librarian, perhaps because I work with students who struggle with reading, perhaps I know how much reading can impact peoples lives and I want all the students I work with to love reading. I know that won’t happen with every student, which is disheartening. However, I do want them all to at least be comfortable with reading as a process.

In Pinned we meet two very different teens. Both are in struggling in some way. For Autumn, on the outside, she is a very confident girl. She is the only female wrestler on her team at school and is very good at it, she’s a great chef and plans to open her own restaurant with her best friend when they are older, and in general is a friendly, open person. However, she has major problems with understanding reading and math, so much so her parents are threatening with pulling her from her team if she doesn’t pull up her grades. She is also completely head over heels in love with Adonis. Adonis is the opposite of Autumn in that he does extremely well in school, in all subjects, doesn’t have many true friends and tends to hold himself off from the world, to a certain extent. He identifies more with adults and can’t quite figure out how to deal with Autumn’s in your face adoration. Autumn wants so much to be with Adonis, even though the rest of the world feels a girl wrestler and a boy in a wheel chair without legs wouldn’t have much in common. Yet they both love wrestling. As Autumn’s troubles with school multiply, Adonis’ relationship with Autumn becomes more complex and he is forced to face some of his insecurities.

Interestingly enough, I had a bit of a hard time reading Autumn’s passages in the book because she has a harder speech pattern to follow. As typical teens, both Adonis and Autumn’s thoughts jump around, and it could be difficult for some readers to understand what is happening. I really appreciated how the story unfolded in a realistic manner and found all the characters to be believable in their lives. Particularly poignant is where Autumn’s parents are sharing their own issues with reading to Autumn’s wrestling coach and it leaves the reader with a profound sense of how much many of us take for granted.

Highly Recommended for students in grades 6th and up.

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