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.


Sometimes it’s best for your well-being NOT to seek the answers to your questions…

Don’t Look Backimgres-2

By: Jennifer L. Armentrout

“Mean Girl” Samantha and her best friend disappeared. Samantha finds a way back to her family, but no one knows about her best friend’s whereabouts, not even Samantha. After the trauma that she underwent, Sam returns back to her everyday life without much memory and no recollection of what happened during her disappearance, not only to her but her best friend as well. As Sam is thrown back into her old life, she begins to question if the person she was, was really the person she wanted to continue to be. Each day she begins to piece together some parts to the puzzle and remembers bits and pieces, but are those smalls bits and pieces going to help her find her best friend? As Sam unfolds some portions of the mystery, she questions how far she’ll need to go to find the answers she seeks, and if they are really worth finding the answers in the end? Ultimately, with Samantha even survive after all that she went through or will the knowledge that she is unlocking get her killed or hurt once again?

Another book that I could not put down. The clever way that the author writes and embeds ideas and plot lines really keeps things interesting and flowing. There are various twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and an ultimate solution that both left me surprised but satisfied!


Sometimes taking a risk can change your life… February 15, 2014


By: Jessi Kirby

I was hooked during the very first few pages of this text! Wrapped with hints of Robert Frost metaphors and questions connecting to our lives, I knew this romance was going to capture me whole, and it didn’t disappoint. We start our story with Parker, a studious, rule-follower, who takes pride in her choices and her hard work. As a senior TA for an English teacher whom she admires, she is given the task to postage and send out senior journals that were written 10 years ago. This teacher gives the assignment each year for his seniors to compose entries in a black composition notebook about what they will make out of their lives and the various plans they have and foresee, and then will send them to his former students ten years later. When Parker discovers a particular journal, she can’t help but read it- the first risk she’s taken in her life, upon taking it for her own viewing pleasure.

This special journal that she took was none other than the seemingly perfect Ashley, whom actually was reported missing, and presumed dead, when she and her equally perfect boyfriend, Shane, took a terrible spin during a bad snow storm a day after graduating. Their car was found in shambles, as were their belongings, and that was how their love-story ended. As Parker initially wants to read the journal because of her fascination and assumed thoughts for a perfect love story, she begins to uncover new ideas that she never had dreamt about Ashley or Shane’s relationship. As she begins to discover these new ideas around her life currently, Parker seems to piece together a different puzzle that she has indeed become infatuated with.

This story really connects with taking chances, self-discovery and taking risks. But will there be the “happy ending” that Parker desires, like in her Nicholas-Spark fantasy romances? This is definitely a must-read for all romantics out there, and those that are willing to take time to think about many messages that come about through the contexts of this journal prompts, and with help from Robert Frost of course. Stay Golden…


Kiss and Make-Up March 9, 2013

By: Katie D. Anderson

I must say, after some harsh reviews from a fellow colleague, I didn’t have many expectations when I began listening to this book. On the surface the premiseurl for this book- a girl who has this “gift” she notices when she kisses someone- was not the most enticing idea. BUT I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued throughout it’s entirety. We meet Emerson, a popular high-schooler who is into what most high school girls are into: boys, her image, and definitely not her school work. She seemed rather shallow and annoying at first. Yet again, I was surprised. About a quarter of the way through the novel I thought to myself, well this girl has got to have some qualities that make you want to root for her, that make her more than just some ditzy teenager, and sure enough she progresses, she changes, she makes you want to root for her. Those are the best stories in my opinion; where the author doesn’t give you everything up front, they test your patience as a reader, but make you want to look for that redeeming quality that has just got to be in there.

As Emerson moves through the story, she figures out about this gift that she has almost accidentally. The interesting part is the way that she uses this “gift” throughout the rest of the book. You see that there are many layers to the somewhat superficial face she puts on in front of others, while her home life was never perfect, she battles relationship issues with her older sister and best friend, and struggles with her feelings, whether real or not, about her first potential true love. All the while, charmingly struggling through some hilariously embarrassing moments that will make you laugh out loud. And the symbolism that the make-up plays throughout was something that I hadn’t expected either- but it was nice for me to question how it all tied together and it certainly did! All in all, I would definitely recommend this carefree yet deep book to all my seventh graders, though I would assume girls would appreciate it most!