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 Murderer’s Daughter – A Victim’s Son August 31, 2013


imgresWhat happens when worlds collide? A son has seen his mother’s dead, murdered body, and now, ten year’s later, he watches through his window, as history seems to repeat itself. Finn, now 17, sees his stepmother shot and killed and watches his father wrestle with the killer, take the gun and kill that man. What Finn doesn’t know at the time is that this is the same man who went to prison ten years ago for killing his own mother. Why? Why has this man returned?

Lila is stunned, when days after her father is released from prison, police knock at their apartment and tell her, her father is dead. Killed after he murdered a woman – the second wife of the man whose wife he killed ten years before. That doesn’t make any sense to Lila as she begins to learn more about the father she knew only briefly out of prison before his death. Why would he talk about their future, her future, if he was planning to kill again?

As both Finn and Lila struggle with their own grief, each begins to question what really happened, both ten years ago and just a few days ago. Could there be more to the story than what the police believe? What will happen if Finn and Lila’s worlds collide? Who will survive?

Norah McClintock has created another suspenseful book with Guilty, looking at the complex nature of guilt, forgiveness, and betrayal.

Highly recommended for grades 7th and up.


Can People Change? Really? July 12, 2013

imgres-1Jojo is back. And this isn’t something that the people in neighborhood are happy about. But since he has nothing better to do with a broken leg, Jojo’s neighbor sits and watches all from his porch. He sees how Jojo’s return affects Ardell’s family. After all, it was because Jojo put Ardell’s older brother in a coma that Jojo was locked up. He sees Shana, Jojo’s old girlfriend come by with their child, the child which started the whole situation that ended up with Ardell’s brother in a coma. And he sees how Ardell begins to launch a neighborhood campaign against Jojo.

However, he also sees Jojo taking care of his mother, and how he lights up when Shana comes by with their little boy, and he begins to wonder if people can change.

Back by Norah McClintock is a short, fast read that will haunt you with the choices the characters make. It will also have you asking yourself – can people change, for better or worse?

Recommended for students 6th grade and up.


What if no one believes you? June 22, 2013

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:24 am
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imgresIn a car. After a party. Two boys, one girl. Only survivor and witness to a double homicide. The girl. In the book She Said/She Saw by Norah McClintock Tegan was in the backseat of her friend Clark’s car when an unknown assailant kills both Clark and Martin, another boy, in the front seat. Tegan is left in the backseat untouched. She keeps reliving the horror of seeing her friends killed in front of her.

Now though, to make matters even worse, no one – from the police to the parents of the dead boys to her friends – believe she didn’t see who pulled the trigger. As Tegan plays that night over in her mind, and questions herself again and again if she did see anything, her younger sister Kelly begins to piece together what happened the night of the murders. Some things Tegan has said don’t make sense with what Kelly knows to be true. Others start casting more and more suspicion on Tegan and put more and more pressure on her till she makes a desperate decision.

What would you do if no one believed you?

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


7th Grade Guest Blogger – Jami L. April 7, 2013

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Student Book Reviews — bhomel @ 5:48 pm
Tags: ,

What would you do if there was a serial killer on the loose in your own town? How scared would you be if you knew you had to walk home all alone? Would you take the safe, but long way home, or would you take the shortcut through the field?

Well, 16 year old Stephanie didn’t seem to care about any serial killer when she took the shortcut. While walking through the field, she felt a tingly sensation on her neck. Before she knew it, she blacked out and later woke up in an old cabin with rope tied around her, lying on the ground! Stephanie needs to first find out a way to somehow break free of the ropes and then find her way home. Of course, the important question is… Who did this to her?

I picked the book Taken by Norah McClintock because, it looked like a page-turner. I really enjoyed the suspense of it, and how it always kept me on my feet. This book is perfect for any gender. My favorite part was when she felt the tingly sensation on her neck. That part really had me wanting to know what was going to happen next. Taken is a mystery. Even if you don’t like mystery novels, you should definitely give this book a chance. I liked that it wasn’t slow-paced, and it got straight to the point.


Mysteries R Us! January 5, 2013

For a good portion of break, I have been reading, or at least attempting to read mystery novels that I can recommend to my students. I have compiled quick summaries and comments about the ones that I enjoyed. I have also mentioned ones that were “misses” according to my opinion. 🙂

12013031The Night She Disappeared written by: April Henry

After reading April’s book Girl, Stolen I must say I was intrigued. It was a quick read that told the story of a girl who was blind that was indeed stolen. I enjoyed how fast-paced the novel was and how it sucked you in from the very beginning. I might add that it was a rather short novel, which is helpful in a sea of books that continuing increasing their page allotments. I had heard from a couple colleagues that The Night She Disappeared  was even better and I would have to agree whole-heartedly! This book takes the point of view of a variety of different characters that are telling the story of Kayla’s mysterious disappearance. Through their stories, ideas, and help from the police, you’ll see this fast-paced thrilled come to life! A great, quick read for both boys and girls!


Confessions of a Murder Suspect 

written by: James Patterson

I have not read much by James Patterson, but after reading this, I would definitely like to change that. The book starts out with the murder of the main character’s parents. Together, with her other siblings, while the rest of the city seems to be trying to pin the murder on one of them, they are attempting to put the pieces together about what happened to their parents. Along the way, they learn more about their own pasts, the secret lives of their parents, and how to work together. All if all, a 4 out of 5, was a little slow at times (another thick book) BUT I think will intrigue middle school students, especially ones looking for a thrilling mystery!

fake id

Fake ID written by: Walter Sorrells

Admittedly so, I am usually not a fan of books that seem “old” or ones that have been written in anything more than the past few years- but I will say I was both surprised and impressed with Fake ID. The main character in this novel is struggling with her mom that had disappeared. Along with that, she has been forced to take on a variety of identities for as long as she can remember. Now that her mom has disappeared, she has to rely on herself and the help of some friends, to help figure out who she is, and why her mom is gone. This story has a few different unexpected twists and turns that make the book even more intriguing, all the way up to the final few pages. A great book again for boys and girls, who especially love solving puzzles and attempting to put all the pieces together to see the bigger picture!


I Hunt Killers written by: Barry Lyga

During this dark phase of my winter break, while reading a variety of mystery and murder books, I also have come to watch the show Dexter, (a show about a member of the Miami Police Unit- that is actually a serial killer himself). I Hunt Killers was the first book I read and it seems that I have become somewhat numb of the dark and severely disturbing acts that take place not only in this book but others as well. So forgive me, if I have a different opinion of this book than others! But I believe this is one of my favorite books that I have read in a long time! What would you do if your dad was a serial killer and shared all the specific details of his kills with you? That’s the exact position Jazz is in. His quest is to not become like his father, so instead he shows up on crime scenes secretly to attempt to catch other killers. A serial killer is on the lose and Jazz, with help from his best friend, are trying to find this killer before he hits again. An intense journey into Jazz’s life and history, a thrill that will keep you reading. Definitely some rough, more intense parts that should be read by more mature students.

Honorable Mention:

Accomplice written by: Eireann Corrigan– two girls come up with a plan of one their not-so-mysterious disappearances in order to gain recognition in their city and have a unique story to help them stand apart on their college applications. Pretty predictable but an interesting idea for a story.

Taken by Norah McClintock– some good parts but a very predictable kidnapping story.

Abandoned Books (for now anyways):

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff

**Nothing new, nothing exciting to keep me interested**