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 http://www.buzzsprout.com/229361 and enjoy!

One Wrong Note…Could Mean Death May 20, 2015

What happens when something you love, has the potential both to save you and possible be the cause of your death? Hanna is imgres
faced with this after she is pulled for an audition for the Commandant of the work camp, Birkenau. She has already been taken from her home where she had a lovely life with her older sister, Erika, and her parents. Hanna was excited before the Nazis invaded her country of Hungary because she had been planning to got to the Budapest Conservatorium of Music. Hanna has a gift for playing the piano and when she is forced with her family to leave, it is her piano she misses and the time to play.

Once in the work camp of Birkenau, Hanna realizes quickly that she and her sister and mother must learn new ways to exist. With her father taken away from them at the gates of the camp, Hanna can only hope they will all be reunited at the end of the war, if they can last that long.

An opportunity comes for Hanna to play for the Commandant of the camp and while she doesn’t think she’ll get picked, when the Commandant’s son, Karl, specifically singles her out, she gets the job. Only later does she learn that her time may be precarious, since one wrong move, or note, can be the end of her time playing and possibly her very life.

Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail takes the reader on a journey to explore not only what it might have been like to have your life hang in the balance every day, but how would you have felt if you realized you were beginning to have feelings for the enemy? Hanna faces this dilemma as she finds herself failing in love with Karl, the Commandant’s son.

Good Holocaust book with a different perspective than others. Recommended for 8th grade and up.

 

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

Love Letters to the Dead By: Ava Dellaira

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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.

 

Who will be THE ONE? May 8, 2014

Filed under: Romance,Science Fiction Books — lhorn1217 @ 5:53 pm
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The One (3rd book in The Selection series)

Kiera Cass

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While this series has kept me on the edge of my seat, the much-anticipated third novel was probably the best yet. Now that we have really gotten to know the ins and outs of these characters and girls competing to win the prince’s heart, Kiera Cass focuses on the constant struggle between castes as well as the various rebels against the prince and his family overall.

Within the last book, we left the prince with just a handful of suitors left for him to choose from. As we continue to guess which girl who will ultimately end up with, we also get to know more about the responsibilities as a princess, as well as the struggles the individual girls face when some of their families become in danger due to the war going on around them. There are so many dynamic relationships, characters, conflicts, and events that you too won’t be able to put this book down!

It’s not too often that we see a series continually get better and better with each book and I’m so glad that Kiera Cass was able to do so!

 

Have you ever written a letter to an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend? April 26, 2014

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Beforeimgres

Jenny Han

Jenny Han certainly doesn’t disappoint in this realistic fiction story of three sisters and father, who continue to make their family dynamic after having lost their mother many years ago. As Margot, the oldest, gets ready to go across the world for college, that leaves Lara Jean to be the woman in charge. Despite starting off on a rocky foot, while attempting to take over her sister’s duties, Lara didn’t think it could get much worse. However, letters she addressed to her old boyfriends or simply boys she had crushes on in her past, got sent. To who? None other than each gentlemen she had addressed it to.

Can you imagine writing a letter to help get over a break-up and rid yourself of the negativity and heartbreak you were feeling, and having it sent to that very person years later? Well, that is exactly what happens with Lara Jean. As the story continues, we see her try to dig her way out of the mess that has been created, finding and forming new relationships, while also helping to find herself through it all!

 

What happens when an email is sent by mistake… April 5, 2014

Title: This is What Happy Looks Like imgres

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Genre: Realistic Fiction

An unlikely relationship begins to ensue via email when Graham accidentally sends a message to Ellie. Without knowing anything about one another, they continue to chat over email as time continues. These two teenagers are on opposite sides of the country and couldn’t be more different.

Without knowing it, Graham takes a job within Ellie’s small town in Maine and the two finally end up meeting. However, without having told one another about certain information about their lives, will the two really be a good match and find happiness?

This is a very cute story, not only about love, but about finding yourself and your own happiness. Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight continues yet again to create believable characters and a plot line that you won’t be able to resist!

 

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

Goldenimgres

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…

 

A Magic Stone August 31, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 6:37 pm
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imgresWhat if your coming had been prophesied, and that you would be called upon to do something great and might lead to the ultimate sacrifice…your death? What kind of pressure would you feel? Elisa is just such a chosen one in the book The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. However, she is a very reluctant chosen one. She is the second daughter of a king, and feels she is the last person who should have been chosen to have a Godstone, a jewel in her stomach, which foretells of her as one God is counting on to do something heroic.

Elisa is set to marry a king of a distant land, a land that may soon be at war. Elisa may be overweight and not value her own counsel, but she is well versed in the language of war, and has been studying since she was a small child. After her marriage, Elisa realizes her husband, while charming and handsome, is at heart, weak. Soon after her marriage she is captured and taken to a land she never thought to see. It is in this barren place she begins to realize her possible purpose and how she can fulfill her destiny.

Looking for an adventure with elements of fantasy and devotion? This is the book for you.

Recommended for students in 7th grade and up.

 

Would you want to be Immortal? August 1, 2013

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 12:35 pm
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Iimgresmagine never aging, never getting sick, never dying. Ever. Would you want that? What if you were the only one? Would you feel lonely, watching everyone you ever loved die?

Pia is perfect. At least that is what all her aunts and uncles at Little Cam say about her. From the day she was born, sixteen years before, all she’s ever heard is that she’s perfect. Perfect in that she can’t be killed, can’t get sick, and probably won’t really ever age much past her 20s. All her aunts and uncles and her mother and father are scientists, who have been continuing work that was begun in the early 1900s to create a race of immortal beings. Finally, with the birth of Pia, they have achieved the first immortal in the world.

But for Pia, while the compound she lives in called Little Cam is all she’s ever known, the arrival of a new scientist makes her long for what is beyond the electrified fences. After meeting a native boy in the jungle forest, she begins to long for more. Are the fences really to protect her, or to keep her in. As Pia gets closer to passing her final test, which will give her access to being on the team that works on the immoral race, she begins to wonder if creating another person like herself is really what she wants.

In Origin by Jessica Khoury, Pia has the opposite problem many of us do. She doesn’t fear death. However, like many of us, she worries about being alone. The journey she makes from a trusting teen to a questioning one and finally being able to make her own decisions is a story many will enjoy.

Recommended for 8th grade and up.

 

3 Perspectives, 3 Life-Changing Moments June 19, 2013

Take Me There

By: Susane Colasanti

After a student of mine, Rose, checked out all the books by this author from the library, I knew I had to see what all the fuss was about. As my previous post about the same author’s book, Keep Holding On,  suggests, obviously I too was hooked. While listening to the audio version of Take Me There, it was interesting because it tells three different overlapping stories from the three main characters in the book. I originally thought that it was going to be some typical high school girly book, but all of a sudden when I heard a male voice come over my radio- I knew there was more to the story.

Susane does a fabulous job really getting you hooked into her books, as she has very relatable characters and concepts of what occurs in high school. What was interesting is that we started with Rhiannon who is devastated after a break up with her boyfriend. We see how she interacts with her two best friends, James and Nicole during this difficult time. Then, just as we are waiting to see what happens next withDownloadedFile Rhiannon’s story, Susane plunges into James and Nicole’s stories of that same period of time we just heard Rhiannon talking about. So it was really interesting seeing the three very different perspectives and perceptions of what occurred during that time. It made me think of how often people can witness the same event but have a completely different perspective on what happened and how it affected them.

As the story continues, Susane definitely surpasses your “typical” high-school romance and drama, while digging into high school bullying, how what definitely goes around comes back around, and even some inappropriate relationships that have occurred or may be occurring. I think though she pushes the envelope, she isn’t afraid to take risks and she does so in a tasteful way that will make it okay for me to have this book in my middle school classroom.

All in all, you will love this book and definitely won’t want to put it down!

 

The Futuristic World of The Bachelor May 13, 2013

The Selection (Book 1) & The Elite (Book 2) 

By: Kiera Cass

Finally, The Bachelor (a favorite reality television show of mine for years) has come into play in YA literature! I had heard about The Selection from many of my female students this year. They urged me to wait until the second book (The Elite) came out to read them right after one another, as Kiera tended to leave things in a cliff hanger. Sure enough, I could not put either book down when reading.

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The Selection takes place in a futuristic world where the prince is looking for his princess. 35 girls are selected to go through a “Bachelor-type” process and fight for the prince’s love. All the while, the society is built into a caste system where girls from all castes are able to apply. Our main character, America, ends up being part of the Selection, despite having little confidence in herself, nor interest in the prince. America remained one of the only lower-caste young ladies in the process. She cleverly showed her true colors very early on to Prince Maxon, as she gave him the idea for her to be a “friend” in the process, since she was in love with someone else (Aspen); one who could help weed through the large amount of young ladies. However, as time progresses, America is beginning to become jealous of the other girls and their relationships with Maxon- and why would that be? Could she be interested in him as more than a friend? The first book ends up with Maxon cutting the Selection numbers down to The Elite, which are the six remaining girls.

As the story unfolds in Book two, I was interested to see where the story was going to go. I was thoroughly impressed with the writing, as it continued to entice me and want to keep reading, as there were many twists and turns along the way that I did not see coming. Without giving too much away, America finds herself in the middle of a love triangle, in a physical altercation with another contestant, fighting for her friend’s life and love, and standing up for herself and her country unlike anyone else has ever dared. Again, Book Two leaves you on the edge of your seat wondering just what will become of Maxon and who his princess will be. I know many of my students and I are counting down the days until Book three comes out!

**Also, it may be that there will be a television show on the CW of the book series. Fingers crossed!**