Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick (2016)

fallingJordan Sonnenblick is a staple in realistic fiction aimed at middle school readers.  His newest offering does not disappoint.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up

Pages:   272 (for ISBN 9780545863247)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic, humor

Tone/Style: thoughtful, self-pitying

Pace: moderate

Topics: parental illness, strokes, recovery, dance, saxophone

Themes: family, parent-child relationships, selfishness, sacrifice

Summary: It’s not easy being Claire. (Really.)

Claire’s life is a joke . . . but she’s not laughing. While her friends seem to be leaping forward, she’s dancing in the same place. The mean girls at school are living up to their mean name, and there’s a boy, Ryder, who’s just as bad, if not worse. And at home, nobody’s really listening to her — if anything, they seem to be more in on the joke than she is. Continue reading

Booked by Kwame Alexander (2016)

bookedKwame’s novel-in-verse follows in the tradition of Newbery Award-winner The Crossover.

Recommended grade level: 4-8

Pages:   320 (for ISBN 9780544570986)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, verse, sports, diverse, reluctant readers, African-American protagonist

Tone/Style: cool, lyrical

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The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon (2005)

burnAn intensely honest and personal memoir about physical and emotional recovery.

Recommended grade level: 8 and up

Pages: 336 (for ISBN 9781400096428)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, memoir, narrative nonfiction

Tone/Style: personal, honest, humorous

Pace: moderate

Topics: burn recovery, suicide

Themes: healing, mental illness, regaining something that was lost, discovering the purpose for one’s own actions

Summary: In 1991, fourteen-year-old Brent Runyon came home from school, doused his bathrobe in gasoline, put it on, and lit a match. Continue reading