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!

Counting Words June 27, 2022

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

It has finally come to this. His dad is sending him away. To a mother his father never talked about, and barely told him about. And a mother who Collin thought all these 13 years didn’t want him. Collin knows he is a lot to handle. Well, mostly, his mind is a lot to handle. Since he was little and learned how to spell and count, he can’t stop counting all the letters that people say to him! He can try to stop it, but it inevitably bursts out of him. At first, people just think he is saying a number to them, or talking to them strangely, but over time, they get tired of him always starting his sentence with the number of letters they just spoke to him. And school is always a disaster. Which is why his father has decided to send him away, from California to Minnesota of all places. To the place where his mother has been all this time…living without him.

Collin isn’t sure how his mother will react to him. His father has never seemed to like him much, so why should his mother be any different. All he knows is she lives on a reservation and is Native American. But all Collin knows about Native Americans is what he’s seen on television or learned in school. And it turns out, that doesn’t really help him understand his mom. Or the girl he meets next door who changes his world all around.

The Brave by James Bird is a finding your way in a hard world story and trying to learn to live with our imperfections – as we see them! As a reader, sometimes Collin’s experiences don’t always ring authentic in terms of some school situations, and at times I wondered if the author was trying to write a contemporary story, or a magical realismdownload one. There is a “twist” at the end that this reader did not see coming, but mostly because I felt like it was out of place and didn’t make sense. In the end the “twist” just kind of annoyed me. If you like stories with some sadness and hope in them, this would be a book you might enjoy.


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