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!

Can hope save your life? March 31, 2013

Prisoner B-3087

15756277By: Alan Gratz

I will say that Historical Fiction is usually my least favorite genre of literature, so much to my surprise as I could not put this book down! In having read various texts centered around the Holocaust, I was hoping that I would learn something new after having read this one, and I must say that I really seemed to notice the fight and struggle that the main character was having. The way the author wrote, I felt as if I was going through the same emotions as our main character, Yanek, as he was forced into numerous concentration camps. The author doesn’t waste any time and wrote in a way that at times seemed almost brief. But you come to realize that this young boy didn’t have time, energy, or the drive to stop and dwell on the hardships that surrounded him, which mirrored similar strategies that the author used throughout.

One part that was really powerful about a half-way through the book was when Yanek’s thought, “I started to cry, the first tears I had shed. Why had I worked so hard so survive if it was always going to end like this? If I had known, I wouldn’t have bothered. I would have let them kill me back in the ghetto. It would have been easier that way. All that I had done was for nothing” (126-7).  You really get the sense of his helplessness and lose of hope. You’ll have to read this fast-paced novel to see if Yanek’s hope, or lack thereof, can pull him through the toughest struggles anyone could be asked to endure.


Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am December 12, 2012

This was a surprisingly good read for me. I had been on the search for some better “boy” realistic fiction books and Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangirs  hit me pretty deep. I LOVED the fact that it was solely 140 pages and got to the point nice and quick. Without giving too much away, this is the story of Ben graduating high school and grappling with the decision of what to do with his future. It begins with he, his long-term girlfriend, and his best friend staring in their high school’s production of “Westside Story,” which is a future his girlfriend was looking into; one that he too could have faired very well in. But Ben felt as though he needed to make a bigger impact on the world and help out his country in a different way- by joining the army. I liked this book because you see how this affects not only Ben, but his girlfriend, best friend (who is still a junior) and his family that he ultimately leaves behind. A heart-wrenching story about changing relationships, the truths about the army and war, and the after effects of such a decision! A great book for all students and all levels! SomebodyPls_cvr-640-h1-198x300