In Broken Strings, Shirli Berman has her eyes set on a role in her school's play. It's 2002 and just after the Twin Towers and the death of Shirli's grandmother. Even though she doesn't eventually score her desired role, she ends up playing another one of the key roles anyway. To add to it, her stage husband is Ben Morgan, the most popular boy in school. At the same time, Shirli is also learning about her family's history from her grandfather (Zayde) who has been silent on the matter his entire adult life.
In Center of Gravity, Tessa has become more anxious after losing her mother to breast cancer. This middle-grade novel is set in 1985, which I guess would make it historical fiction. To soothe her anxiety, Tessa cuts pictures of missing kids out of milk cartons. For her, it is crucial that every next milk carton bear the face of a child not already in her collection. So, at lunch, she has to take time sifting through milk cartons to find a new face.
I'll be honest, middle-grade books about homelessness are so heavy for me -- they break my heart every single time. But like many difficult to read books, these books are vital mirrors and windows. I've also come across several middle-grade books about homelessness and poverty that balance heartbreaking with heartwarming. You'll find many of them on this list. I'm excited to have found books set in many countries across a number of continents.
After his father dies by suicide, Drew tries to move forward with life by volunteering at the library where his mom works. The kids love him for his zombie story time sessions and because he’s a generally responsible boy. He helps his mom watch his little brother, Xander and helps cook dinner -- he even mows the lawn. But this summer, three years after his Father’s death, a new girl Audrey starts volunteering at the library too. She’s good with computers and he’s worried she’ll steal his shine — and that’s not even the worst part of his summer. A new man, Phil seems to have ridden into his mother’s life and Drew isn't sure what's up between them. Somehow he begins to think that Phil might be his father.
Eve, Sophie, and Nessa are three different girls in Ford middle-school whose lives are changed when their names appear on "The Prettiest" list posted online by someone called "LordTesla." Sophie is the Queen Bee of middle-school who loves makeup and has a legion of female followers. However, she's also hiding the fact that she lives on the poorer side of town and mostly shops at thrift stores and Goodwill. Sophie is distraught to be placed at the number two position on the list.
In That's What Friends Do, Sammie and David are best friends who first met at Little League. As the only girl on the baseball team, Sammie enjoys being one of the guys and she and David get along excellently. She also thinks all the other girls do "girly" things which she feels are not her style. She's convinced herself that she's just better being friends with the boys. Things are great until a new boy, Luke moves into the neighborhood.
Pablo is used to moving around and feeling unmoored. His mama has been packing up and moving every few months since she and his father got separated. Now, they're in the Philippines where mama is working with an animal sanctuary Pablo is struggling to cope with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Things take a somewhat positive turn when "Chiqui," an orphaned Filipino girl with a cleft lip is thrust upon mama.
Middle-grade books about grandparents are some of my absolute favorites. I didn't get to enjoy the closest relationships with my grandparents for various reasons, so it warms my heart to read about kids enjoying that intimacy. I live vicariously through these middle-grade books about grandparents. There are many challenges with grandparents and these books do [...]