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!

Trapped in another Time August 22, 2022

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

download-3Abe has always had a “thing” for Mitzy, but has never been able to do more than just nod her way as he walks by her on his way home from school. Not that there is anything  waiting for him at home. Just the every day life of one of the many who blend in and go about their lives.

But today, for some reason, he decides to take a little detour and go into a store front shop. There he meets a woman who says she will tell him his fortune. Not that he thinks he has anything fortunate to look forward to, but what the heck. Only what she says surprised him, and even more so, when he goes to leave the shop, he blacks out, or thinks he does. When he comes to, he is in London of all places and not in his own time! In fact, it appears he has traveled back in time to the exact moment that the infamous Jack the Ripper first strikes! And perhaps most surprising of all, is that he finds out Mitzy has also been transported back in time. The question is, how do they get back? Both have been told something by the fortune teller, but neither of them has any idea how they can complete what she has said they need to.

Ripped Away by Shirley Reva Vernick is a quick, interesting read. While the book does center around the crimes of Jack the Ripper, both Abe and Mitzy are more concerned with how to get back to their “real” lives and not the ones they find themselves suddenly inhabiting. Instead of lingering on the gruesome murders committed, the book focuses on how a Jewish person was suspected of being responsible for the murders due to the pervasive prejudice against Jews. The fact that this prejudice played a role in the case with the Ripper will probably be new information for many readers. Ripped Away also gives an idea of just how limited the lives of people living in London during this period must have been and how the lives of younger people have changed.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Just Across the Street May 16, 2022

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

Bao and Linh have been at war for years. Well, they haven’t been at war, but their parents certainly See, each family has a Pho restaurant  and they happen to be across the street from each other! Talk about crazy competition! Bao and Linh years before had one day where they were having fun together at the Buddhist temple years ago, but their parents quickly put a stop to any friendship that they might have begun. So when Bao is closing up his parents’ place late one night, and sees Linh slip out of her parents’ place and appear to be hiding in the alley, he has no real reason to go across the street. Yet he does. Because he knows what it is like to have Vietnamese immigrant parents who only want the best for you, but still put a ton of pressure on you.

That one act of crossing the street and actually talking to Linh for the first time in years changes things! Bao and Linh end up working together on a project for the school newspaper, and Bao begins to wonder if he has found something he is good at, while Linh tries to figure out how to tell her parents just how much her art really means to her. As Bao and Linh get closer together though, they realize that their parents might have more against each other than just running competing restaurants. The question is what?

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le is a fun love story about people getting to know each other, learning family secrets and how to deal with expectations – your family’s and your own.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


In Real Life… November 1, 2021

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

download-7Maya is looking forward to college as a place to dream big and follow her dreams – as in becoming a film maker. Ever since her father put a camcorder in her hands, she has been hooked. But the problem is, her parents see it as only as a hobby, not a career. With the school year winding down, and her parents clueless as to the fact that she wants to go to New York to study film, not stay in the Chicago area and be close to them, she has her work cut out for her.

To add to the complication of her life, a boy that she’s been crushing on for what seems like a long time, suddenly is paying attention to her. In fact, over their Spring Break vacation, they get super close. Or at least Maya thinks they are. But in the back of her mind, she knows he has a serious girlfriend, or at least they used to be serious. Maya isn’t sure about a lot of things anymore.

When tragedy strikes the nation, Maya and her family find themselves in the scary territory, being Muslim and Indian in a country that often blames immigrants for anything and everything that can and does go wrong. Can Maya convince her parents to overcome their fears and accept that their daughter is growing up?

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed is a book about a girl at the crossroads of feeling and being an adult yet still finding herself making at times childish decisions. How do you stay true to yourself, but honor those who have helped foster who you have become?

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


#mynewfavoritebook Review by Mrs. Homel October 18, 2021

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

All it took was one social media post to change Rachel and Kyle’s lives forever! Hiding behind her phone, Rachel secretly snaps a picture of Kyle looking all cute in his Burger Barn uniform. He’s so cute, she decides to send the picture to her friend on social media. One reflit (share) turns into another and another, and then Rachel can’t even keep up with her notifications!

After work, Kyle turns on his phone and he has no idea why he has thousands of messages. He finds his picture, which he had no clue was ever taken, plastered all over Flit! (Think fake Instagram or Snapchat)

One post has thrown Rachel and Kyle into the spotlight and they’re now famous…so famous a big talk show host has plans for both of them. Being suddenly famous does come with some perks, but it also brings out some haters and bullying, online and at school.

download-6#famous by Jilly Gagnon is great if you love stories about social media and the drama of having a crush, you have to read this book! It does have some mature content because the characters are in high school.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Unlimited Redos to Get it Right? July 6, 2020

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Think back to a time when something went wrong in your life. Maybe something big, downloadmaybe something small. If you had a chance to redo it, would you? And just how many times would you want to redo it, if the same result kept happening? How much would you change what you did or didn’t do each time?

Jack King is a senior in high school and has been in love with his best friend, Jillian, forever, or so it seems. So when they are on a college visit to the school they are both going to be attending the following fall, he isn’t looking to meet anyone, certainly not on the steps of a frat house. And certainly not someone as wonderful as Kate. Pretty quickly, Jack is all in on Kate, which is just as well, since Jillian has been dating his OTHER best friend Francisco for only a month longer than Jack has been in love with her.

Best case scenario, right? Now everyone is happy and in love! But then something totally unexpected happens. Kate breaks up with Jack and won’t tell him why, until he gets a phone call from her, saying she’s in the hospital. And later that same night, she dies. How can this be possible? Jack didn’t even know that Kate was sick! Unable to believe what he’s just heard on the phone from Kate’s mom telling him she has died, he runs out of his room and falls down the stairs, and into the past. That’s right. He finds himself on those same stairs at the college house, just about to meet Kate…again. How is this happening? Is he being given a chance to save her life? Or is it about more than just Kate?

Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds is a story about how we can all get caught up in that one thing, whatever it might be, and forget about all that has come before and what will be there after, when it ends. It is also about all those different paths we can take, and how it can be so hard to find that perfect one.

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


Growing Apart, Growing Up June 29, 2020

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

download-1Maya and Nicki are named after two of their mother’s favorite poets. And their father is a community activist, always helping somewhere and someone, many of them Maya and Nicki’s friends. Maya has always loved her neighborhood, but over the last four or so years, there have been changes. Many that Nicki seems to embrace, but ones that have Maya concerned. After all, how does one feel when the white people who once fled an area, now decide it is okay to start putting up speciality shops and landlords who decide they don’t want to rent anymore, but would rather sell a home that Maya’s best friend Essence has lived in her whole life – just across the street?

And how is Maya supposed to feel when Nicki befriends the new white family that moves into Essences’ old home? Doesn’t Nicki feel the conflict that Maya does? After all, they have planned to go to Spelman College for forever, where generations of smart, strong, influential black woman have gone, but now Maya wonders if the plan is still in place. Especially since everyone thinks Maya and Devin belong together, when Maya begins to realize they don’t really have anything in common, other than they are both driven and both black. Maya is really conflicted when she starts to have feelings for Tony, the high school senior who moved across the street, into Essences’ old house. Tony, who is white.

This Side of Home by Renee Watson does a great job of looking at the reverse of white flight and delves into gentrification, although what Maya is going through is much deeper than cosmetics on buildings. What makes a community, what gives people a history and are you able to move forward, while still retaining the same spirit? Maya struggles are real and very relevant.

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


Then and Now June 1, 2020

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

Mia can’t believe that her father is shipping her off to live for the summer with a grandmother she has never met. Well, actually she can believe it, because obviously, why would her father want to be around her, not after what she has done. Mia has a daily reminder of that awful night every time someone looks at her and has that moment where they gasp, or when she happens to look in a mirror, which of course, she doesn’t.

Her face is a permanent scar of that night. The night she killed her sister. But Mia is still downloadliving and while her grandmother isn’t exactly warm and welcoming, she does get her a job for the summer working at a local deli not far from her grandmother’s apartment in New York City. New York is a far cry from her old home in Maine. Still the busy life at the deli helps to make Mia forget, at least temporarily, about the awfulness of her life. And on her first day there, she meets Fig. Fig with the electric blue hair and the family at the deli who is big and boisterous and so full of life that it is hard for Mia to be numb around them. Fig in turn introduces her to a group of friends, one of whom is Cooper, a boy that Mia quickly becomes fascinated with.

As the summer progresses though, new and old relationships will threaten the small space of peace that Mia has painstakingly carved out for herself and she wonders how she can truly every be whole again.

We Were Beautiful by Heather Hepler is a story about the guilt many carry concerning events that ultimately were beyond their control. Mia must face the choice we all have about such events. Do they completely control us, or give us the insight we need to move forward?

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


Dragons and Witches March 2, 2020

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:00 am

Alys has just been accused of being a witch. Of course, she knows she isn’t. She also knows she is being accused of witchcraft because their neighbor wants their land and Alys’ father has not agreed to sell it. After all, if their tinsmith shop is gone, how would her father make his living? However, when a man knocks on her door, saying he is  Inquisitor Atherton of Griswold, things go badly right away for Alys. The neighbor, Gower and his wife and daughter make outlandish claims against Alys, claims that she has no hope of disproving and when she is pronounced a witch, her father dies from a heart attack. Alys is bound and dragged to a spot high up on a hill away from the village. Because you see, her punishment will not be the standard burning at the stake. No, she will be tied to one and then forced to wait for the Dragon she is to be a sacrifice for.

Alys can’t believe how her life has changed in one swift day. She has lost her father, her home, her village and any friends she haddownload there. And it seems she is to be made a meal of by the end of the day for a Dragon no less. However, when the Dragon does come, he isn’t quite what Alys thought he would be.

Dragon’s Bait by Vivian Vande Velde is a true fantasy and pure enjoyment from beginning to end. Highly recommended for anyone who loves a good read.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Love on the Ice December 2, 2019

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:44 am

downloadAll she’s known her whole life is Hockey! And yes, it has a capital letter in Holland’s house. Because not only does she play hockey, but her two older brothers and her little brother do as well. Their dad was a big hockey player in his younger years and both he and their mom are super supportive. Especially of the fact that Holland is a girl, playing on the boys varsity team in high school. For Holland it isn’t anything new. She’s always played with the boys, from the time she was little. But while it isn’t really strange for a girl to play on the boys team, it is a little strange because there is a girls team at her high school. Still, Holland has been able to deal with the undercurrent that comes through sometimes from some of the old timers who complain she’s taking a spot away from some boy that could be playing.

However, this year, her junior year, seems different. Partly because their school has just learned they are in the running for big prize. Each year in their state, five communities are highlighted for their hockey programs. This year, their town has been selected and if they win the online voting portion, their game will be broadcast live on television! This is a huge deal to the town, to the teams and to Holland. Because it seems that everyone thinks having a girl play on the boys team might just make them win the big live broadcast prize. This puts pressure on Holland at a time when she doesn’t need it. As all of this is happening, Holland begins to realize something. One of her co-captains on the team is someone that she’s loved to hate, but recently, she’s wondering if that hate is turning into a totally different emotion.

How on earth is she going to deal with that, when she has a strict no dating any teammates rule? Especially when she feels such pressure to be the best since she’s the only girl on the team?

Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren is a delightful quick romance that throws in a nice dash of hockey – if you are into that sport! This book was so easy to tear through because it was a great read. Lots of swearing if you bothers you, but come on, it is a book about hockey after all!

Recommended for grades 8 and up.


In the Boat House, Strange Things Happen October 28, 2019

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 8:06 am

downloadHe was annoyed and mad, and a bit pissed off. He had only been trying to help when he heard Shannon screaming off on the side of the school parking lot back where the bushes were. Turns out, she and a bunch of other kids had taken the principal’s car and moved it off the parking lot and onto the grass near the bushes. But they’d dropped it right down on Shannon’s foot – hence the screaming. When Elliot arrived to help lift the car off of Shannon’s foot, that is when the principal showed up too. And said that Elliot was just as responsible as Shannon and all the other kids that she wouldn’t name.

Which leads to Shannon and Elliot being punished and having to clean out the boat house at the edge of the property by the school. Right away it is cold and dark and not a very inviting boat house and a mess! So Elliot, still angry that his good deed got him in trouble, grudgingly begins to clean up and listens as Shannon prattles on and on about nothing much. Then some strange things start to happen. Like the door that Elliot propped open slams shut. And Shannon says that maybe there are spirits in the boat house and they should try to contact them. So she constructs a Ouija board, and they both get more than they bargained for!

Shallow Grave by Alex Van Tol is a quick read and a nice ghost story for anyone looking for both!

Recommended for 7th grade and up.