It's My Party and I Don't Want to Go is quite the mouthful, but the quirky title encapsulates this book's nature. Ellie is a young Jewish girl with undiagnosed social anxiety. She gets physically sick -- sweaty, lightheaded, shaky, fainting at times -- at the thought of being the center of attention, and even worse when her worst fear actually happens. Her latest anxiety trigger is the thought of her fast-approaching bat mitzvah.
In Tune It Out, Lou and her mother live in their truck. Her mom believes Lou has a gift (her voice) and is determined to make it big with her. So she makes Lou sing everywhere from cafes to karaoke bars to street corners. This is extra challenging for Lou because she hates the bright lights and the sound of applause is physically painful. She also hates physical contact and is bothered by the texture of certain clothes on her skin. Lou gets some respite from the malnutrition and homelessness when an accident leads to her being taken in by Child Protective Services. Fortunately, she is sent off to live with her aunt and her husband in Nashville, Tennessee where she begins a new life until her mother can get her back.
Now That I've Found You is Kristina Forest's sophomore YA novel. This book focuses on Evie, an up and coming actress with a family in the film-making industry. Her grandmother (Gigi) is a movie star and her parents are documentary film makers who travel the world for their career. Evie has just snagged a role with a well known director when a video of her drunkenly mocking his British accent surfaces. She's dropped from the film immediately and effectively blackballed in the industry. She's only 18.
The Distance to Home is Jenn Bishop's debut middle-grade novel. I read and loved her most recent release, Things We Can't Say about a boy dealing with parental suicide. The Distance to Home focuses on an equally sensitive subject: the death of a sibling. This summer, Quinnen isn't playing baseball with her team -- she decided to quit after her sister, Haley died the summer before. But when her family decides to host a player from a Minor League Baseball team, Quinnen starts to bond with the a couple of the players.
In Ways to Make Sunshine, Ryan Hart and her family are moving to a new (old) house because her dad lost his post office job and his new job doesn't pay as much. Ryan is unhappy about the change for many reasons. She liked their old house, and even though she has her own room in this new house, this house is a smaller bungalow, which means there will be no stairs to play on. She also fears that it will be too small to entertain guests, because Ryan loves to create new recipes -- and cook them!
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.
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.
Middle-grade books about friendship are always in high demand because what's more pressing to a middle-schooler than friendship drama? These middle-grade books about friendship highlight the struggles of forming friendships, the challenges of maintaining a friendship, and of course, the joys of true friendships.