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!

Who Am I? December 29, 2013

Waking up and not knowing where you are can happen sometimes. But what about waking up, not knowing where you are, or WHO you are? And to make matters even imgresworse, what the girl hears upon waking up is that two men are planning to kill her.

What would you do? She struggles to get away from the men who want her dead, and she is able to escape, but now who can she turn to for help? Who will believe her? And more importantly, who can she trust? As she tries to stay alive, more questions come up. Where is her family, why are people trying to kill her, and what made her lose her memory?

 The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry is a fast paced, twisty mystery that will have you dying to finish and find out, does she live, or die?

April Henry is becoming my new go to author for great mysteries. Recommended for grades 7 and up.


A Secret Society, or Something Else? December 20, 2013

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 12:34 pm
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It is hard to start at a new school. Always. But for Mickey, it has been really hard. His father was killed in a car accident, his mother hasn’t been able to cope with the death and has been doing drugs. As a result, she is in a rehab place and Mickey is forced to live with his Uncle Myron.

imgresSo life is pretty miserable for Mickey. The only bright spot has been another new student whose name is Ashley. Ashley and Mickey begin sort of dating, but suddenly, Ashley has disappeared. Just as disturbing, an old woman tells Mickey one day on his way to school that his father is still alive! Just hearing that as a possibility gets Mickey’s heart racing. Could it be true? And how would this old woman know anything about his father?

Nothing is making sense. So it is up to Mickey and some friends he makes along the way to try to piece together what happened to Ashley and if his father is still alive. Shelter by Harlan Coben is a mystery for mystery fans. But be prepared. Not all will be revealed, because –  of course –  this is the first book in a series.

For grades 7 and up.


When Good Enough…Isn’t December 12, 2013

Beth knew it was totally unlikely, and after pining away for Salva for over 5 years, she knew it wouldn’t happen. So when, out of the blue, Salva actually seeks her out and asks for her help in passing their AP English class, she is stunned and doesn’t think she should take him up on the offer. After all, if she has to see him every week, that will just make her crush that much worse, right? What if she actually falls for him more? How awful will it be when he still doesn’t even pay attention to her?

imgresSalva can’t believe it! Why is the principal making him take AP English? Who knew that taking freshman English in 8th grade would come back to haunt him. What a ridiculous rule that you had to have four years of English IN high school. If only he’d known. And to get stuck with the hardest English teacher in the whole school, also not fair. As if he doesn’t have enough pressure from being the star quarterback on the school’s football team, being the president of student council,  and trying to be the first in his immigrant family to go off to college and be successful. He feels tremendous pressure from his dad to do well in school and to live up to the expectations of his dead mother.

On the surface, Beth and Salva couldn’t be more different, but as they spend more time together, Salva is struck by how much Beth gets what he’s going through, and how she keeps pushing him to go further than he ever thought he could. But what if she pushes to much and makes him feel too much and makes him long too much? Can Beth and Salva ever really have a relationship?

Salvation by Anne Osterlund is everything you want in a high school romance. Try it, and you won’t be disappointed!

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Ever Just Take a Swing? December 6, 2013

She wasn’t sure she could do it. The golf part was no problem, and she wanted that, but, could she join the all boys varsity golf team at her school, and fit in? After all, being a girl from the Rez, or Indian Reservation, wasn’t exactly a ticket to the popular crowd at her school. It had been hard enough of a transition just going to the mostly white school with just a few other kids she’d grown up with. So when she gets the chance to join the golf team, Fred decides she can’t pass it up, even if it means there will be some big challenges.

imgresRyan is beyond mad when he finds out his best friend, Seth, and partner on the golf course has been kicked off the team. Sure Seth wasn’t great, but to be replaced by a girl, a girl from the Reservation no less, is more than a guy can take sometimes.

However, both Fred and Ryan are caught off guard by the feelings they start to have for each other, Ryan quickly realizes that Fred is an amazing golf player and comes to respect her quiet thoughtfulness. Fred, on the other hand, sees more to Ryan than she thought there ever was to the popular and handsome blonde guy.

As these two try to find their way toward each other, others around them aren’t so sure they should.

Hooked by Liz Fichera is a great book for anyone who wants to while away a few hours in a teen romance.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


If something is Gone, is it Lost? December 3, 2013

Essie’s life is hard, but it is all she knows. She would love to start her own hat making shop, but that would require way more money than she could probably save in ten years. She has the responsibility of raising her younger sister, Zelda, and keeping her brother, Saulie, out of trouble. Her father died when she was only ten and her mother, after giving birth to Zelda, has to go to work full time. Essie was left to raise little Zelda, whom she loved instantly. Their mother always feels Essie lets Zelda get away with too much, but Essie can’t refuse her little sister anything.

When Essie gets older, she goes to work for the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, making shirts each day. There, she meets a woman named Harriet, who imgresappears to be lost. Essie is drawn to Harriet, who is a bit of a mystery. Why would someone who seems to come from money be working in a factory?

Lost by Jacqueline Davies is set in bustling New York City right around the turn of the century. Essie’s family is a typical working class family of the day, and the book portrays the struggles that each individual faced daily. Any history savvy reader will know the horrific events that befell the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, and of course Essie and Harriet can’t escape this incident.

Lost is more about the relationships Essie forms with her family, a young man, and Harriet, than the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. It shows how just because something or someone is gone, it doesn’t mean they are lost.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


Ever Feel Like a Puppet on a String? December 2, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 3:17 pm
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imgresSo, this book, Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, has a bit for everyone. A witch, orphan children, a con man, a kidnapping, dogs and magic.

First we meet the witch, who is in agony because of a stone, a fire opal to be exact. It is the source of most of her power but it has also been draining away her life for years. She decides that she must get rid of the stone, but she is unable to destroy it herself. The stone will burn her ultimately, but how can she get rid of it?

Parsefall and Lizzie Rose are two children who are living with a man named Grisini in London in 1860. He is a masterful puppeteer. Parsefall is very good with the puppets as well, and has been with Grisini ever since Grisini took him from the work house at a young age. Lizzie Rose has only been with the small group for a little over a year, ever since her parents died. While Grisini provides a roof over the orphans heads’ and some food from time to time, not much else is given to Lizzie Rose and Parsefall.

Enter Clara, a young girl who is tormented by the ghosts of her four dead siblings and by a mother who can’t let the dead siblings go long enough to be thankful for the one she still has left, and a father who is just trying to make the best of his life. Clara’s family is a wealthy one, and she begs for her 12th birthday for Grisini to bring his puppet show to her house.

It is this puppet show that puts into motion events that reach all the way up to the witch in her tower in Northern England.

Splendors and Glooms is a magnificent book, filled with intrigue, mystery, unscrupulous people and stand up ones. Just when you aren’t sure where it will take you, it all makes sense.

Highly recommended for grades 7 and up. Fine for 6th graders, but should be a good reader.