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!

Lost Everywhere January 16, 2018

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 7:17 pm

Screenshot 2018-01-02 at 7.16.14 PMMoving yet again. This is the 10th move since she was young and frankly, Callie is sick of it. But she knows what it means when she comes home and can’t find her clothes. It means her mom has already packed up the V.W. Bug and is ready to move on. It also means that the latest boyfriend hasn’t panned out, so that is why it is time to go. Callie wishes that just for once, whether a boyfriend comes or goes, her mom can stay in one place. After all, Callie has never had a friend because they move around all the time. And because Callie has a secret that makes her seem very strange. Callie has a neurological disorder called Tourette syndrome.

When they arrive at the new apartment complex, Callie meets a boy who ends up going to her school. At first, she is hopeful they will be good friends, but when her “tics” start to show up at school, Jinsong isn’t sure he wants everyone to know he likes her, when everyone else thinks she’s a freak. Soon though, Jinsong and Callie are friends, at least outside of school. Until an incident at school shows how you either have to be friends all the time, or not at all.

Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry is a quick read and you will find yourself rooting for both Callie and Jinsong in the hopes they can figure out how to be friends.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


Trapped January 2, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:22 am

Screenshot 2018-01-02 at 10.20.10 AMWorld famous Livvy Flynn is living the dream. The dream of a world class author, all before she’s even left high school. She has a boyfriend that she will hopefully meet in the future – since she’s so busy and so is he, they’ve had to interact over the internet – and she’s heading to college in the fall. So what could possibly go wrong?

Cruising along in her sports car on her way to another author event, Livvy has a car crash. And the only witness, a girl playing a flute, doesn’t seem inclined to help her. Instead, Livvy wakes up in a basement bedroom with the girl and her mother. A mother who seems to think that Livvy owes her something. It becomes clear to Livvy that she is being held prisoner and that she just might not make it out…alive.

The Detour by S.A. Bodeen is a chilling kidnapping story with a twist or two thrown in for good measure.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


OCD, a missing millionaire, and more December 12, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — lpitrak @ 12:45 pm

Aza is in many ways a typical sixteen-year-old girl. She worries about saving for college, studies and hangs out at Applebee’s with her best friend Daisy, alternately loves and feels suffocated by her overprotective mother, and misses her father who passed away eight years ago. However, Aza’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) wracks her with unrelenting thoughts about germs, disease, and death, to the point that she feels that existing inside her body is like being inside an ever-tightening spiral. When Daisy concocts a crazy scheme to find a missing billionaire who is wanted for embezzlement in order to collect a $100,000 reward, Aza finds herself caught up in a twisted mystery with the billionaire’s lonely, poetic son Davis at the center. None of these distractions is enough, however, to stop the interior voices that threaten to take over her life. John Green’s latest is a sensitive, authentic portrayal of chronic mental illness.


When Too Little is Too Little November 30, 2017

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 1:08 pm

Nothing seems tangible to Ivy anymore. With her parents divorce – one she didn’t see coming – Ivy watches as her mother becomes less and less in both spirit and in her physical presence. Ivy’s own body doesn’t seem to make sense to her anymore and her best friend Anna returns from her summer vacation different in a way Ivy can’t quite download-1identify.

Life seems to be spinning out of control and yet plodding along. If only she can figure out a way to control things, then maybe just maybe, life will make sense again. As part of having control, Ivy begins to watch what she eats and how it makes her feel when she eats. Soon, it becomes all too much for Ivy and her academic life begins to stuffer. All the things that used to mean something are fading away.

This Impossible Light by Lily Myers is a novel in verse that cuts to the heart of one girl’s experience with not feeling she is enough and have devastating the consequences of that belief can be.


Running Blind September 14, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 1:18 pm

For Parker Grant, many things have happened to shape who she is. Many, many things. And she’s just 16 years old. When she was seven, she was in a car accident with her mom. Her mother died and Parker was left permanently blind. Her father became the rock in her world. Along with her father and some close friends, Parker was able to take back control of her life, as best she could. When she was in 8th grade though, Scott, who was her closest friend and for a little time – her first boyfriend – betrayed her in a way that she has never recovered from. If her best friend could devastate her, what could the rest of the world do to her? Luckily, she and Scott ended up going to different high schools.

But starting her junior year, the town has decided to combine the two small high schools, and so Parker must contend with a whole new group of people who don’t understand the girl with the blindfold on in the hallways, and Parker gets a new “guide” at school; a girl named Molly. While Parker is trying to adjust to life among the new students, she has forgotten about one person. Scott.


He is in one of her classes and Parker begins to question many of the things in her life. Especially ever since her father died of a supposed overdose three months before school started and her aunt’s family came to live with her. Parker begins to realize that everyone has secrets – ones that even if she could see, she wouldn’t know about. She found out things about her father after he died she never suspected. Could she be wrong about other things as well?

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom is a wonderful, powerful look at how we can think we understand a situation or a person, and realize we truly know nothing.

Recommended for everyone because it is just that good. Or 7th grade and up.


Bad Business August 7, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:20 am

Lindy was super excited! She’d been accepted into an amazing summer program that took students to the Arctic to learn and do projects AND see polar bears in their natural environment.

The only problem is that it costs a huge amount of money. She was able to get a scholarship to cover part of the cost, and if she turns in her money early, that will knock off another $2,000, but the problem is the early bird date is approaching fast and while Lindy does work, she isn’t sure she’ll be able to make the deadline.

Lindy works for seniors in her neighborhood doing odd chores for them. One of her best clients, Mrs. Naulty, is wonderful, but Lindy has begun to notice that she’s getting confused sometimes and forgetful. The only thing that isn’t great about Mrs. Naulty is she download-1doesn’t pay very well. However, just when Lindy thinks she’ll never be able to make her money deadline, Mrs. Naulty gives her $200! Usually she only gets 10! Lindy knows this must be another time when Mrs. Naulty is confused but she doesn’t feel she can turn down the money.

Bad Business by Diane Dakers gives us a situation where we are rooting for Lindy and when a supposed friend puts Lindy in an even worst position we aren’t sure how it will come out.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


Short Life of a Shorty August 2, 2017

Filed under: graphic novel,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:03 am

downloadThey called him Yummy because he loved sweets. He slept with a teddy bear and stole kids’ lunch money, broke into houses, cars and anything he could get his hands on. He was eleven years old when he killed a girl. He was elven years old when a 14 and 16 year old killed him.

His real name was Robert Sandifer and he lived in Chicago in the mid 1990s. It was there that he got an education in the darker side of life. What is a boy to do when his father is locked in jail and he has been taken away from his mother because of abuse. His grandmother loved him, but she had up to 20 other grandkids to look after as well. Often Yummy would take off for days and only return when he wanted some love and a safe place to sleep.

The Black Disciples – a gang in Chicago – liked to recruit young kids. They couldn’t be tried as adults and as such could do a lot of things without being locked up for the rest of their lives. The gang used this to their advantage and had the younger kids, or shortys, do a lot of their dirty work.

One afternoon, Yummy came across some rival gang members and pulled out his gun. But instead of shooting the gang members, he killed a 14 year old girl named Shavon Dean. Thus began a huge manhunt in the city of Chicago for an eleven year old boy.

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri is a powerful fictionalized graphic novel account of what went down in the hot summer of 1994. The reader is faced with the question, was Yummy the victimizer or the victim?

Highly recommended for grades 7th and up.