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!

For all the GATSBY fans! July 6, 2014

Great  By Sara Benincasaimgres-1

If you enjoyed The Great Gatsby, then this modern-day retelling of the classic is right up your alley! With a famous blogger longing to meet the famous fashionista, all Naomi needed to do during her summer vacation was introduce the two ladies, and the rest was history. As time continues and the similarities between the original and this modern-day take unfold, even more scandalous and abrupt behavior ensues. Will Naomi find herself in the middle of inappropriate friendship? Will she find herself and the person that she has always desired to be, much to her mother’s pleasure? Or will she continue to be the rebellious teen that doesn’t have a ounce of care in the world, especially to fit in within the East Hampton social life? For all the scandal, thrills, and the sarcasm of Sara Benincasa, this is a definitely a book you won’t want to put down!

Appropriate for more mature readers- 8th grade and up!


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!


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.


Would you want to be Immortal? August 1, 2013

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 12:35 pm
Tags: , , , ,

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.


8th Grade Student Guest Blogger March 18, 2013

The book Gone by Michael Grant is the first book in the six-part Gone Series. Now I know six books may sound intimidating, but these books are so good you can’t put them down. Six books won’t seem like enough! The story starts in Perdido Beach, California with Sam Temple. Sam’s a pretty regular kid. He loves to surf with his


best friend, Quinn, and he has a crush on a girl named Astrid. However, Sam has noticed something odd that’s happened to him, he can create and shoot light with his hands. If that isn’t freaky enough, on a seemingly ordinary day in Perdido Beach all the adult disappear. No explosion, no magic spell, just gone. After all the initial chaos dies down, Sam discovers he isn’t alone. Other kids have amazing powers just like him. One girl can teleport, another has the ability to cancel gravity. Most kids use their powers to help the kids in town, but not everyone. The power-hungry Caine and other kids at Coates Academy are working against Perdido Beach. They want control but if they have it, they’ll abuse their power. Oh yeah, and all these kids are trapped by an impenetrable dome.

Review by Claire O’Meara


What if Everyone Else’s Different is Your…Normal? March 13, 2013

imgresSometimes what the outside world views as different is the norm for you, yet you can feel like an outsider in your own home. Such is the case for Jade. Jade can hear. Her sister, Marla, can’t. But Marla resents that Jade can hear, not BECAUSE she can hear, but because Marla feels that Jade is less in some ways because she doesn’t understand how strong Marla is when she is surrounded by all deaf people. Marla feels Jade makes the family weak, by not BEING deaf. Both of the girls’ parents are deaf and have been their whole lives, so the outsider in this home is Jade, who is the only person with hearing.

Some sisters have a bond that can’t be broken…stretched, but never broken. In Strong Deaf by Lynn McElfresh, Marla and Jade don’t have much of a bond at all. Jade resents the fact that Marla gets to go to a residential school for deaf children and where she seems to have a fabulous time, while Marla can’t stand how Jade seems to always be annoying her on purpose and constantly refers to Jade as a “baby” even when there are only two years between them. The vast gulf that separates these girls is immense. The parents seem to miss how truly frustrated and mean the two girls can be to each other, and offer guidance in little, and sometimes, useless doses.

I found this book to be fascinating, not only for the tense and turbulent relationship between Jade and Marla, but for the glimpse into the deaf culture, and specifically, into the world of Strong Deaf culture. This was a book I couldn’t put down because I struggled to see where the author would take these two very different girls, and wondered, if they could ever see things from each other’s perspective.

Highly Recommended for students in grades 6 and up.


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!


What’s Your Fixation? January 21, 2013

What happens when you find out your parents have been keeping a really big secret from you? Payton, in Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt, is shocked to find out her dad has M.S. and has known for about six months. Turns out everyone in her family knew, but her. She stops talking with her parents and they reach out to Payton’s school counselor. Payton is told to find something to focus on and study to take her mind off of the issues at home. And Payton decides to focus on Sean Griswold’s head. After all, she’s been staring at it for most of her school career since they both have last names that start with the letter G.


Once Payton decides on Sean’s head however, she realizes she knows next to nothing about the boy. What ensues is a funny read with some serious undertones. Payton’s home life isn’t without complications as she tries to come to grips with how her father’s illness will impact all of their lives and what it means for her future, with or without Sean’s head in it!

Recommended for grades 6 and up.



Top Chef for Teens! January 16, 2013

Looking for a fun light hearted read? You have found it with Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams. I don’t know about you, but I love cooking shows. Now, considering I’m not a good cook, or even cook a lot, I don’t know what this says about me. But I have to tell you, I ate (yes, pun intended) this book up!

imgresSophie is a sixteen year old girl, living the good life in her family’s restaurant, cooking up specials and enjoying what she feels is where she is meant to be. That is until her best friend (and she hopes one day MORE than just a friend) Alex convinces her to audition for the new television show which is a teenage version of Top Chef. Sophie can’t believe it when she makes it as one of the eight teens from across the country who will compete during 7 weeks in the summer to get scholarships and an intern with a famous chef. Sophie is at turns elated and mystified by the other teens in the competition and her own performance. She begins to realize her life at home in the small family restaurant isn’t what she wants for herself forever. When the show begins to be shown when she is back at home and in school, Sophie isn’t sure how to take the fame or how to respond to an Alex who seems to have changed. Can she weather it all and come out a winner? Check out Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous to find out!

Recommended for grades 7 and up.


Can You Really Hold Someone Down? January 10, 2013

imgresThe book Pinned by Sharon Flake struck home for me, perhaps because I’m a librarian, perhaps because I work with students who struggle with reading, perhaps I know how much reading can impact peoples lives and I want all the students I work with to love reading. I know that won’t happen with every student, which is disheartening. However, I do want them all to at least be comfortable with reading as a process.

In Pinned we meet two very different teens. Both are in struggling in some way. For Autumn, on the outside, she is a very confident girl. She is the only female wrestler on her team at school and is very good at it, she’s a great chef and plans to open her own restaurant with her best friend when they are older, and in general is a friendly, open person. However, she has major problems with understanding reading and math, so much so her parents are threatening with pulling her from her team if she doesn’t pull up her grades. She is also completely head over heels in love with Adonis. Adonis is the opposite of Autumn in that he does extremely well in school, in all subjects, doesn’t have many true friends and tends to hold himself off from the world, to a certain extent. He identifies more with adults and can’t quite figure out how to deal with Autumn’s in your face adoration. Autumn wants so much to be with Adonis, even though the rest of the world feels a girl wrestler and a boy in a wheel chair without legs wouldn’t have much in common. Yet they both love wrestling. As Autumn’s troubles with school multiply, Adonis’ relationship with Autumn becomes more complex and he is forced to face some of his insecurities.

Interestingly enough, I had a bit of a hard time reading Autumn’s passages in the book because she has a harder speech pattern to follow. As typical teens, both Adonis and Autumn’s thoughts jump around, and it could be difficult for some readers to understand what is happening. I really appreciated how the story unfolded in a realistic manner and found all the characters to be believable in their lives. Particularly poignant is where Autumn’s parents are sharing their own issues with reading to Autumn’s wrestling coach and it leaves the reader with a profound sense of how much many of us take for granted.

Highly Recommended for students in grades 6th and up.