Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Middle Grade and YA Books : Don't Miss These Titles

 One of the reasons I have only a book or two to review on Mondays is that I have been working in some middle and young adult selections.  I have ordered so, so many books for my school library (which is a good problem) that I could read all day every day and never truly catch up.  I hate when kids ask about a book and I don't have much I can tell them about it.  

Here are three amazing (and very different) books I will be pressing into my students' hands:

Free Lunch by Rex Ogle- I've had this one sitting around since last year and was told by a student that it was depressing.  Well, I love a good dose of that type of reading and absolutely  loved this book. Ogle's novel is autobiographical up to a point (I'm assuming he took some liberties with the retelling and therefore it has landed in the fiction category), and it is a hard story to read.  His mom is abusive, they live in poverty, and even school doesn't seem to be a safe haven for him.  And yet, Ogle succeeds. I think a lot of students will be able to identify with his story. I'm hoping that will give them hope.  

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat - this book has had a ton of attention - and won a ton of awards - and it is deserving of them all!  I don't read a ton of middle grade non-fiction, but this is one that I am hoping teachers decide to use with classes in the future.  Most of my middle grade students are familiar with the thirteen boys who were trapped in a cave in Thailand a few years ago. They don't know details to the story but are clearly interested in the topic. Soontornvat's book gives a detailed account in a way that is easily readable and interesting. I already knew how things were going to end, and yet I still found myself turning pages rapidly.  The photographs add to the story and I feel this one has appeal to every student. 

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas- I loved The Hate U Give and I think I love Concrete Rose just as much.  This is prequel of sorts - although it could definitely be a stand-alone novel. Maverick's story is shared in this book: he finds himself a teenage father and then shortly thereafter finds out an ex-girlfriend of his is pregnant with his child as well.  Thomas doesn't romanticize teen parenting at all. And she also shows how gang violence and guns impact people more than physically. The message in this one is good, but I also loved visiting characters at a different time in their lives.  I'm hoping that Thomas isn't done with these people and we can see them again in some future book.

Check out all of these gems if you are in need of something to read!

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