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. If you would like to listen to booktalks of some of these books, please check out this site and enjoy!

An Island Torn Apart May 4, 2020

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

downloadOkinawa is a relatively small island off the southern tip of Japan, but at the end of World War II it was the place of the last and bloodiest battle of the whole Pacific Ocean war.

Ray is a young American marine trying to find his way on this lush green island that the United States is about to invade. His father tried to talk him out of joining the military, but he felt it was something he had to do, plus it also meant getting away from his dad. He isn’t prepared though for the true horrors of war.

Hideki is a native Okinawan and he and his family have been separated due to the war. His father and sister have been forced to help the Japanese who took over the island years before, and his mother and little brother were evacuated on a ship heading for Japan. Hideki has stayed behind with a bunch of other boys around his age of 14 to become part of the Blood and Iron Student Corps to fight for the Japanese Imperial Army. However, Hideki realizes very quickly that the JIA has no real intention of trying to help any of the Okinawan and in many cases will use them in horrible ways.

Both Ray and Hideki struggle to find footing in this new war torn world they both exist in.  The question is what toll will this take on both of them, and will they make it out alive?

Grenade by Alan Gratz is a really good World War II historical fiction read. It gives a clear picture of both sides of the conflict and how confusing things were on the island and just how terrifying and dangerous too.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


2 Responses to “An Island Torn Apart”

  1. Madeleine Says:

    Thank you for your blog post and for offering this blog to all readers, and especially to  teachers and students. I am a middle school teacher and I love finding new historical fiction to suggest for my students. I have read Gratz’s book Refugees and plan to read it to my class next year. I will put Grenade on my reading list for this summer.

    I’ve often thought of starting a similar blog for my students and I was wondering how you go about guiding students to write the posts, as well as who administers the site. I can imagine it can be used as a great teaching tool, both for student writing and for students sharing their favourite books and getting new ideas for future reading. I have tried a similar project involving kids reviewing books, but I used google sites, and students were unable to comment on each others’ posts. 

    Thank you for sharing your books with us.

    • Hi! So glad you were able to find my blog and have enjoyed the reviews I’ve posted. If you need more ideas for historical fiction, be sure to look off to the right side for that category. I have over 500 reviews up now (I think!) so there will be lots more for you to check out.

      In terms of starting a blog, the big thing is if you will be able to keep it going. I started this blog with 5 other people. You will notice, I’m the only one still doing this. I have told myself starting in late 2019 that I will post a review each Monday. Has that happened every Monday. No. But it does help to keep me reading (I have the expectation for myself to read 50 young adult books each calendar year) so setting that goal helps.

      As for students, modeling what you want to them is the best way to do it, I think. Show them reviews like what you want. Break it down for them. You will notice in the beginning of this blog, with more people writing, each of us has a bit of a different style.

      If you are looking for a place to host it – I have had success here. It is free, and while there are ads, I don’t think they are too intrusive. You have different admin rights on here the creator of the blog. You can give other writers different levels of rights. What you could do is have the students submit their reviews to you, and then you post them. At that point the students could comment on each other’s posts. I believe there is a place where you can check the comments first, but I might be wrong.

      Hopefully this has helped you get some ideas for what might work for you.

      Good luck!

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