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 truth shall set you free? Maybe. July 6, 2014

Love Letters to the Dead By: Ava Dellaira


Laurel has moved to a new school. She did after her sister committed suicide the year prior and Laurel needed a fresh start from the devastating act of losing her older sister. Starting as an assignment in Lauren’s English class, the format of the text is a series of letters to famous people from the likes of Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, and Amelia Earhart, whom she writes letters to. Embedded in the letters, Laurel tells the narrative that is her life, including her past, present, and future. Throughout the intense novel, we finally find out what exactly happened to Laurel’s sister, the new relationships that she attempts to form, and how her family and loved ones are coping with the lose of their beloved May.

In this griping and heart-wrenching novel, we really get to know all about the awful moments within Laurel and his sister’s lives, things that Laurel is afraid to share with most people around her, especially her teacher whom originally gave her the assignment. Laurel’s letter seem to be a way for her to begin coping through the process and finding the person who she really wants to become, which ultimately has quite a few more differences than she anticipated from her beloved sister May.


When Good Enough…Isn’t December 12, 2013

Beth knew it was totally unlikely, and after pining away for Salva for over 5 years, she knew it wouldn’t happen. So when, out of the blue, Salva actually seeks her out and asks for her help in passing their AP English class, she is stunned and doesn’t think she should take him up on the offer. After all, if she has to see him every week, that will just make her crush that much worse, right? What if she actually falls for him more? How awful will it be when he still doesn’t even pay attention to her?

imgresSalva can’t believe it! Why is the principal making him take AP English? Who knew that taking freshman English in 8th grade would come back to haunt him. What a ridiculous rule that you had to have four years of English IN high school. If only he’d known. And to get stuck with the hardest English teacher in the whole school, also not fair. As if he doesn’t have enough pressure from being the star quarterback on the school’s football team, being the president of student council,  and trying to be the first in his immigrant family to go off to college and be successful. He feels tremendous pressure from his dad to do well in school and to live up to the expectations of his dead mother.

On the surface, Beth and Salva couldn’t be more different, but as they spend more time together, Salva is struck by how much Beth gets what he’s going through, and how she keeps pushing him to go further than he ever thought he could. But what if she pushes to much and makes him feel too much and makes him long too much? Can Beth and Salva ever really have a relationship?

Salvation by Anne Osterlund is everything you want in a high school romance. Try it, and you won’t be disappointed!

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


If something is Gone, is it Lost? December 3, 2013

Essie’s life is hard, but it is all she knows. She would love to start her own hat making shop, but that would require way more money than she could probably save in ten years. She has the responsibility of raising her younger sister, Zelda, and keeping her brother, Saulie, out of trouble. Her father died when she was only ten and her mother, after giving birth to Zelda, has to go to work full time. Essie was left to raise little Zelda, whom she loved instantly. Their mother always feels Essie lets Zelda get away with too much, but Essie can’t refuse her little sister anything.

When Essie gets older, she goes to work for the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, making shirts each day. There, she meets a woman named Harriet, who imgresappears to be lost. Essie is drawn to Harriet, who is a bit of a mystery. Why would someone who seems to come from money be working in a factory?

Lost by Jacqueline Davies is set in bustling New York City right around the turn of the century. Essie’s family is a typical working class family of the day, and the book portrays the struggles that each individual faced daily. Any history savvy reader will know the horrific events that befell the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, and of course Essie and Harriet can’t escape this incident.

Lost is more about the relationships Essie forms with her family, a young man, and Harriet, than the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. It shows how just because something or someone is gone, it doesn’t mean they are lost.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


Fantasy, or Reality? April 23, 2013

Ever think it would be cool to have a clone? Someone who could do all the things you don’t want to do? What if that person was your identical twin? Would you consider that person a clone? What makes you an individual if another person in the world shares your exact DNA? Brendan is struggling with finding his own identity in The Shadowed Unicorn by Sheila Kelly Welch. Being a twin is hard enough, but being the responsible twin gets old at times. Nick never seems to care what others think, and it’s Brendan who feels he needs to worry about everything. When the family moves to a small farm in the countryside of Pennsylvania after their father is killed, Brendan’s sister Ami seems to be coming apart at the seams. Brendan begins to question her grasp on reality as she becomes swept away in a fantasy world.

imgres-1As Brendan moves through his life, worrying about his sister, his mother, and even his twin brother at times, the reader is drawn into his world. How can he keep everyone safe and moving forward after the devastation of losing their father? And what will happen if he can’t control everything and everyone around him. The Shadow Unicorn gives you a fantastic look at a family trying to survive and move beyond a crisis and shows how each member of a family can deal with pain and loss in their own personal way.

Highly Recommended for grades 6 and up.


Guest Blogger -7th Grader Danny K. February 19, 2013

After finishing Cat Patrick’s first book, Forgotten, I was wondering if Forgotten would be turned into a movie or if Cat Patrick would write another book. Well, she did…Revived!

What would you do if you couldn’t keep a secret? How would you feel if you couldn’t tell your secrets to someone you love or someone you have faith in? These are the thoughts in the mind of Daisy, a 16 year old girl that has been revived 5 times! After dying the first time on a football field, she woke up not knowing where she was. It was Mason that made a drug for her to come back to life. Revive is a drug that brings you back to life.

Daisy was always aware when she was being revived or not. She still has flashbacks of the times she has been revived; these dreams still haunt her. Each time she is revived, she has a different name, she moves to a new city, and she has to transfer schools.

Daisy “McDaniel” or “West”, made an oath to never tell anyone about revive, otherwise she could go to jail. Audrey, a high school student, meets Daisy and they become friends in a flash! Matt, Audrey’s brother, falls in love with Daisy, but they are not together. Daisy tells Matt her secret!

Audrey has cancer and Matt wants Daisy to give Audrey revive to help her get better. Maybe Audrey can live, but it is a 50/50 chance.

Revived is an outstanding book! I was in joy from the beginning of the book to the end! Revived is a nonstop read from the amazingly talented Cat Patrick!


If You Aren’t Afraid of a Sad Book January 12, 2013

Filed under: Novels in Verse — bhomel @ 8:42 pm
Tags: , , ,

I tried to read I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder awhile back but for some reason, I just couldn’t get into it. I never finished it – but I recently came across her newer novel in verse, Far From You. Several people posted online that it was a great book. I decided to give this author another chance. I started reading Far from You before bed one night and it was so good, I ended up staying up way past my bedtime to finish this 355 page novel in verse. It sounds like a lot of pages but this story is told through very small poems on each page.

From the beginning, Alice’s life is pretty depressing. She’s about to become a big sister. She points out she’s only the big HALF-sister because she’s not happy about her step mom having a new baby. As a matter of fact, she’s not happy at all about even having a step mom. Alice’s mom passed away from cancer and Alice is still hanging on to her grief. She writes songs about her mom to help cope with it. Meanwhile, her dad has moved on to a new wife and baby – which all seemed to leave Alice behind and left out. I really felt bad for Alice as I was reading this. I think the author, Lisa Schroeder, did a great job really making you feel how lonely Alice’s life was as you read on. Part of the reason I couldn’t put the book down was because I felt so bad for Alice and wanted to find out what was going to happen to the poor girl.

Just when you think things can’t get any worse for her, she ends up in a fight with her best friend and then has to go with her family to visit her step mom’s parents for Christmas. There’s one huge challenge Alice faces before she finally gets a break. Someone seems to be on her side helping her out like a guardian angel.

What I like about this book so much is that Lisa Schroeder packs a lot of description in such small amounts of words. This is a big story packed into small poems. I recommend this book for 8th graders and up.