Middle-grade books about divorce, separation, and blended families, like other books on specific issues, are helpful for kids experiencing such changes. It’s never easy when families break up or when parents remarry, whether after the death of a spouse or divorce.
I love sharing middle-grade books that address specific useful situations or target a unique reader demographic. My list of middle-grade books about sports is one good example. In this post, I share 20 middle-grade books about divorce, separation, or/and blended families.
In each of these middle-grade books about divorce, one thing is the same. That is, the parents are either separated, actively contemplating divorce, divorcing, or remarrying after a split. All book blurbs come straight from Goodreads. However, I’ll be sure to add a quick note if I loved a book or think there’s something you should know about it.
Middle-Grade Books About Divorce and Blended Families
Ella Cohen was skeptical when her mom started dating Krishnan just a few months after her parents’ divorce. But two years later, she really likes having her new stepfather around. When she decides to enter a junior dog show, Krishnan even lets her start handling his dog, Elvis. She’s determined to become an expert handler, even after her first show ends in disaster.
Unfortunately, some things are harder to control—like Ella’s dad, who has changed a lot since the divorce. He used to be laid back and fun, but now he hovers over her constantly, terrified she’s going to shatter into a million pieces if she so much as hints that everything in her life isn’t perfect. Ella is particularly upset that his animosity toward Krishnan keeps him from coming to watch her handle Elvis, especially when she wins a lottery spot in the National Dog Show in Philadelphia…
Addie is waiting for normal. But Addie’s mother has an all-or-nothing approach to life: a food fiesta or an empty pantry, her way or no way.
Addie’s mother is bipolar, and she often neglects Addie. All-or-nothing never adds up to normal, and it can’t bring Addie home, where she wants to be with her half-sisters and her stepfather. But Addie never stops hoping that one day, maybe, she’ll find normal.
In the small town of Alcolu, South Carolina, in 1944, 12-year-old Ella spends her days fishing and running around with her best friend Henry and cousin Myrna. But life is not always so sunny for Ella, who gets bullied for her light skin tone, and whose mother is away pursuing a jazz singer dream in Boston.
So Ella is ecstatic when her mother invites her to visit for Christmas. Little does she expect the truths she will discover about her mother, the father she never knew and her family’s most unlikely history.
And after a life-changing month, she returns South and is shocked by the news that her schoolmate George has been arrested for the murder of two local white girls.
Sofia wonders if 14 might be the worst possible age to lose your mom. Talking with her dad about puberty and s-e-x is super-awkward (even though he is a gynecologist). And when she wants to talk about her mom, her friends don’t know what to say and her dad gets sad.
When Sofia discovers Dear Kate, an advice columnist from Fifteen magazine, she’s grateful to have someone to confide in about everything from crushes to mourning—someone who is completely, wonderfully anonymous. It feels ideal—until Sofia’s dad introduces her to his new girlfriend, Katherine Baird, a.k.a., Dear Kate…
I’m starting this one today — my entire Goodreads network loved it!
Emily Murphy is about to enter middle school. She’s sort of excited… though not nearly as much as her best friend Hazel, who is ready for everything to be new. Emily wishes she and Hazel could just continue on as they always have, being the biggest fans ever of the Unicorn Chronicles, making up dance moves, and getting their regular order at The Slice.
But things are changing. At home, Emily and her mom are learning to move on after her parents’ divorce. Hardest of all, her beloved sister Mina has been in a treatment facility to deal with her anorexia. Emily is eager to have her back, but anxious about her sister getting sick again…
A magical breadbox that delivers whatever you wish for—as long as it fits inside? It’s too good to be true! Twelve-year-old Rebecca is struggling with her parents’ separation, as well as a sudden move to her Gran’s house in another state. For a while, the magic bread box, discovered in the attic, makes life away from home a little easier. Then suddenly it starts to make things much, much more difficult, and Rebecca is forced to decide not just where, but who she really wants to be. Laurel Snyder’s most thought-provoking book yet.
G-baby and her younger sister, Peaches, are still getting used to their “blended-up” family. They live with Mama and Frank out in the suburbs, and they haven’t seen their real daddy much since he married Millicent. G-baby misses her best friend back in Atlanta, and is crushed that her glamorous new stepsister, Tangie, wants nothing to do with her.
G-baby is so preoccupied with earning Tangie’s approval that she isn’t there for her own little sister when she needs her most. Peaches gets sick-really sick. Suddenly, Mama and Daddy are arguing like they did before the divorce, and even the doctors at the hospital don’t know how to help Peaches get better.
It’s up to G-baby to put things right. She knows Peaches can be strong again if she can only see that their family’s love for her really is like sky.
Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana. Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.
Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school.
In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.
Lincoln Jones is always working on the latest story he’s got going in his notebook. Those stories are his refuge. A place where the hero always prevails and the bad guy goes to jail. Real life is messy and complicated, so Lincoln sticks to fiction and keeps to himself. Which works fine until a nosy girl at his new school starts prying into his private business. She wants to know what he’s writing, where he disappears to after school, and why he never talks to anybody. . . .
20 middle-grade books about divorce, separation, and blended families, featuring work by @erinentrada, @jenmaschari, @olugbemisola, @AuthorCCPayne, @CeliaCPerez, and more! Click To Tweet
Other than their first names, Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are sure they have nothing in common, and they wouldn’t mind keeping it that way.
Naomi Marie starts clubs at the library and adores being a big sister. Naomi Edith loves quiet Saturdays and hanging with her best friend in her backyard. And while Naomi Marie’s father lives a few blocks away, Naomi Edith wonders how she’s supposed to get through each day a whole country apart from her mother.
When Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi Edith’s dad get serious about dating, each girl tries to cling to the life she knows and loves. Then their parents push them into attending a class together, where they might just have to find a way to work with each other—and maybe even join forces to find new ways to define family.
There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school–you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (Maria Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.
The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!
In Raymie Nightingale, set in the 1970’s (as all three books are) we meet three very different girls. Raymie Clarke, Louisiana Elefante, and Beverly Tapinski meet at their baton twirling lessons. All three girls — mostly the first two — hope to enter and win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. Beverly hopes to sabotage the contest. Raymie hopes that winning the contest will cause her father who eloped with a dental hygienist to return to their family. And, poor Louisiana just wants some money and food for her grandmother and herself — two squatters subsisting on tuna.
No one wants to ride the Divorce Express. Especially Phoebe. It means leaving her New York City apartment and friends, moving to the country with her dad, and taking the bus every weekend to visit her mom in the city. It means she has to go to ninth grade in a new school and see her father go on dates. It’s a hectic life with no time to feel she really belongs with the kids in either place. Then, just when Phoebe gets a handle on juggling the pieces of her life, her mother makes a decision that will change everything again. How can Phoebe be herself and still be part of both her parents’ worlds?
Raina can’t wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren’t quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she’s also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn’t improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, when something doesn’t seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.
It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.
It’s the start of a new
school year and Wren Jo Byrd is worried that everyone will find out her
parents separated over the summer. No one knows the truth, not even her
best friend, Amber. When even her new teacher refers to her mom as Mrs.
Byrd, Wren decides to keep their divorce a total secret. But something
else changed over the summer: A new girl named Marianna moved to town
and wants to be Amber’s next bff. And because of her fib, Wren can’t do
anything about it. From take-out dinners with Mom to the tiny room she
gets at Dad’s new place, nothing is the same for Wren anymore. But while
Marianna makes everything harder at first, Wren soon learns that
Marianna once had to ask many of the same questions–the big ones, as
well as the little ones–that Wren is asking now.
Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.
Fizzy is a good Southern girl who just wants to be perfect. And win the Southern Living cook-off. The being perfect part is hard though, since her parents’ divorced and everything in her life has changed. Wary of her too-perfect stepmom and her mom’s neat-freak, dismissive boyfriend, she’s often angry or upset and feels like a guest in both homes. She tells herself to face facts: She’s a “leftover” kid from a marriage that her parents want to forget.
But she has to keep all of that to herself, because a good Southern girl never yells, or throws fits, or says anything that might hurt other people’s feelings—instead she throws her shoulders back, says yes ma’am, and tries to do better. So Fizzy tries her best, but it’s hard to stay quiet when her family keeps getting more complicated. Fortunately, the Southern Living cook-off gives her a welcome distraction, as do her new friends Miyoko and Zach, who have parent issues of their own.
Eleven-year-old Isabella is used to these kinds of comments – her father is black, her mother is white – but that doesn’t mean she likes them. And now that her parents are divorced (and getting along WORSE than ever), Isabella feels more like a push-me-pull-me toy.
One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves.
Being split between Mom and Dad is more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities. If you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole?
There they are: 20 middle-grade books about divorce and blended families! I love making these book lists because I always add new selections to my TBR. I hope you find one of these middle-grade books about divorce useful!Know a kid whose parents are divorcing or forming a blended family? They'll enjoy these 20 middle-grade books about divorce. Like this post? Share it!
Over to you now, what are your favorite middle-grade books about divorce, separation, and blended families? I’d love to know!