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!

A Novel for Artists February 13, 2013

It’s funny how sometimes books can be both loved and hated, liked and disliked. Recently our middle school book club, Book Buddies, chose to read Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff. Several students did not enjoy the book and I had the opposite reaction.

Hollis Woods is an orphan. She was abandoned as a baby in Hollis Woods and that’s how her name came to be. Part of her story is told through flashbacks described through the pictures Hollis draws. She’s a skilled artist who has an eye for color and detailed drawings.

Hollis runs away from the only real family she’s ever had and ends up in another foster home. This time she’s placed with Josie, who is also an artist. Hollis likes living with Josie but if Social Services discovers Josie’s mental health is getting worse, Hollis will be forced to leave. All the while, Hollis can’t seem to forget the Regan family – the one family she felt was real. She’s torn between staying with Josie to help care for her and wanting to be back with the Regan family.

The book switches back and forth between Hollis’ pictures (her memories) and her time with Josie. I thought this book is a good reminder about how important family is.

Book reviews and recommendations are great but you’ll never really know if you like or dislike a book until you read it for yourself.