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!

The Grapevine of Gossip December 5, 2022

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

download-13Teddy and Kim have been together, well, it seems like forever. So when one day, just after lunch in their senior year of high school, Teddy asks a question that Kim isn’t prepared for, it throws everything off. And to a freshman named Phil Spooner who witnesses what appears to be the end of Kim and Teddy, he has to tell someone. Who better than Kim’s best friend who just happens to be walking by, moments later. That was all it took for the grand saga of what happened to end Kim and Teddy to start making the rounds and rounds and rounds of the school.

At first people can’t believe it, but then, everyone decides it is time to pick sides. Even the teachers get involved because these two were the “it” couple and who doesn’t have an opinion on what went wrong! As the whole situation gets larger and larger involving sayings, and even what people are wearing, pretty quickly people lose sight of the fact that no one seems to actually be asking Teddy and Kim what happened. And frankly, Teddy and Kim are honestly wondering the same thing. What did happen?

That’s Not What I Heard by Stephanie Kate Strohm is a fun and often funny look at what happens when our expectations get off track and how sometimes everyone has just a little too much to say about things that really, aren’t their business!

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


More than Friends October 24, 2022

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

Abby knows Codownload-17oper doesn’t like her “like that” after that disastrous discussion last summer, but it doesn’t mean she can just turn off her feelings. Still, she has to pretend, right? After all, she doesn’t want to lose Cooper as her best friend, and it will totally mess up their group of four friends. But two of those four are going away for the summer, leaving just Cooper and Abby. Abby and Cooper. Okay, she really needs to stop thinking anything will change.

So she will focus on her artwork this summer, in the hopes of getting into a special course at an Art Institute. That means the local art museum that she works at will hopefully showcase her work in a local artists show they have. But when the museum director looks at her work, he tells her she needs to grow, that her work lacks heart. Devastated, Abby sets out to learn how to get more “depth” into her work. So with the help of family, she creates a list – a list of experiences that will hopefully impact her artwork in a positive way. And who better to help her with this list than Cooper, her best friend?

Love, Life and the List by Kasie West is everything you want in a romance. West does a great job of creating characters we care about and want to see have that happy ending.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Alone in the Woods October 10, 2022

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

download-7Beauty, as she used to be called when she was little, knows she doesn’t like life in town, even if her two sisters do. She struggles with the expectations of what life might and probably will be like for her. Basically, finding someone to marry, setting up a house and then having children. But, does she really want that? Or should she just accept that is what happens when you get older and grow up. Like how she used to be called Beauty, but now goes by Yeva, since that is a more proper name. Yeva still longs for those old days with her father when she would go hunting with him in the woods. But since her father became a respectable merchant and moved the family to the city, those days seems like such a distant memory for both of them.

When her father unexpectedly loses everything however, it appears the only avenue left to them is to return to the old hunting lodge and for her father to turn back to hunting. But he is much older now, and seems plagued by a mystery creature, or creatures that lurk in the woods. Yeva is concerned about her father, and when his dog comes back without him one night, she knows it is up to her to save him, or die trying. What she never expects is to find the creature that her father has been ranting about. And just what she will do to try to escape from him, once the creature has caught her.

Hunted by Meagan Spooner is a great retelling of the old fairytale Beauty and the Beast. This one has some different angles to it from some of the other stories out there and it adds to it. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys reading retellings of classic tales with new spins on them.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Completely Made Up October 3, 2022

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

It all started with a comment. A completely inappropriate comment made by their physical educationdownload-6 teacher. One that Will was not going to let slide by, and of course, it meant that she got in trouble for it and ended up in detention. The worst part for Will was the fact that Harriet heard what the coach said to Ruby, and just gave him a pass. But that isn’t very surprising for Will because she knows Harriett is a total suck up to all the teachers at their elite high school in Australia.

But when Harriet shows up later that day in detention with Will (not because she got into trouble but because Harriett is trying to suck up to the teacher who is monitoring detention that day) they do strike up a conversation and shocker – Harriet admits that what the coach said was actually not very nice. And perhaps he is sexist. But then Harriet really throws Will for a loop. She tells Will if she is so upset about it, she should do something about it. The question is, what? What could Will do that would make any kind of a difference. And from that conversation, Amelia Westlake is born! And little do Will and Harriet know, but their collaboration will indeed change things at their school, forever!

Amelia Westlake was Never Here by Erin Gough is a fabulous book! I loved all the humor and all the ideas that the girls came up with to point out the foibles with their school. The book is for mature students since there is a lot of swearing and some mature content, but it is all realistic to the situations and the age of the characters. Start reading this book, and you’ll have a hard time putting it down!

Recommended for mature 8th graders and up.


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.