The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (2016)

Romance laced with social issues and philosophical musings.

Recommended grade level: mature 8th graders and up

Pages:   348 (for ISBN 9780553496680)

Genre(s) and keywords: romance, realistic, diverse

Tone/Style: contemplative

Pace: moderate

Topics: Asian-Americans, African-Americans (sort of; she is technically Jamaican), undocumented immigrants

Themes: love, romantic relationships, fate, chance, finding meaning, preparing for the future

Summary: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story. Continue reading

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

Front Lines by Michael Grant (2016)

frontThis book feels a lot like historical fiction–but it’s not.  A novel concept make this one memorable.

Recommended grade level: 7-12

Pages:   576 (for ISBN 9780062342157)

Genre(s) and keywords: historical fiction (not exactly, but historical fiction fans should like it), adventure, war

Tone/Style: thoughtful, despairing, gritty
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Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (2015)

goodbyeA beloved author takes on some hot-button middle school issues in a story about love and friendship.

Recommended grade level: 6-8

Pages: 304 (for ISBN 9780385743174)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction

Tone/Style: thoughtful, alternating points of view

Pace: leisurely to moderate

Topics: friendship, romantic relationships, internet and cell phone safety, theatre

Themes: friendship with the opposite sex, changing relationships with old friends, finding new interests, determining when to be in a relationship with someone

Summary: Love is __________.

It’s the beginning of seventh grade and Bridge, Emily, and Tab have a pact: no fighting. Continue reading

Hidden by Helen Frost (2011)

8901945A hidden girl, hidden feelings, and messages for the reader hidden in the text itself–there’s a lot to find in this novel in verse.

Recommended grade level: 5-9

Pages: 176 (for ISBN 9781250056849)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, verse (partially)

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Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon

CamoGirl_jkt1A relevant drama about changing relationships in middle school.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 224 (for ISBN 9781416978046)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, diverse, African-American

 

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Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories by R.J. Palacio (2015)

augThree novellas from the point of view of three different characters offer new insight into the world of Palacio’s 2012 bestseller Wonder.

Recommended grade level: 3-6

Pages: 303 (for ISBN 9781101934852)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, novella

Tone/Style: thoughtful

Pace: leisurely to moderate

Topics: The Julian Chapter: bullying, feuds, parent-school relations, World War II.

Pluto: divorce, accidents, memories, childhood friendships, outer space, dogs

Shingaling: dance, cliques

Themes: The Julian Chapter: reasons for meanness, redemption, forgiveness

Pluto: difficult friendships, long-distance friendships relationships with parents, guilt

Shingaling: reasons for kindness, going outside of friend groups, self-discovery

Summary: Over 2 million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. Readers have also been treated to three stories offering a special look at Auggie’s world through new points of view. Continue reading