By Barbara Dee
HALFWAY NORMAL is a wonderful contemporary story about Norah, a seventh-grader returning to school following a prolonged absence for leukemia treatment.
As well as the standard middle-school parent, friendship and relationship dilemmas, Dee brilliantly weaves in the added pressures of being labeled a cancer-survivor and having an impaired immune system and the impact that has on Norah's reintegration into the school community and her interactions with others.
Norah is a likable character on a journey towards self-acceptance and a new normal. Her story is filled with hope and inspiration making this a must-read for all.
FOCUSED By Alyson Gerber
Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
From the author of Braced, which sheds light on scoliosis, comes Focused - a middle-grade novel about ADHD.
The main character, chess-obsessed Clea, has been struggling with school and her relationships with others. When she is diagnosed with ADHD, her life slowly begins to change as strategies are implemented to help her find ways to concentrate and manage her school work and daily tasks.
Clea is a well-crafted character whose seventh-grade challenges (homework, friendship issues, bullies, and first crushes) are relatable and believable. The first-person narrative gives the reader unique insight into her thought processes as she struggles with her ADHD, and juggles academic and social pressures. Readers will become cheerleaders - wanting Clea to try, try, and try again to strive for her goals and dreams.
This is an ideal read for ADHD sufferers and anyone interested in learning more about it. A helpful author's note follows to supplement the informative details included in the story.
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Alan Cole Is Not A Coward
By Eric Bell
Get ready to be entertained, surprised, and inspired by Eric Bell's debut novel.
The main character and narrator, Alan, is masterfully portrayed as an unpopular yet likable and relatable middle-schooler. Although plagued by self-doubt, coming-out fears, and family issues he rises above all challenges and finds the courage to stay true to himself, and the people and ideas he believes in.
The secondary characters such as Alan's brother (Nathan) and Alan's friend (Zack) are equally memorable. And the depiction of middle school life is faultless.
This book will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions, but it will be worth it for the hope and happiness you will feel in your heart at the conclusion. Suitable for middle-school readers and up.
Drum Roll, Please
By Lisa Jenn Bigelow
If you are ready to be transported to summer camp, Drum Roll, Please is just what you need!
Melly attends music camp with her best friend but she experiences much more than an improvement in her drumming. As well as managing her own self doubt and learning how to survive at sleep away camp in the isolated Michigan woods, there are difficult times with her best friend, her parents impending divorce, and a surprising first crush on a girl.
Through Melly’s eyes, Bigelow paints a vivid picture of the woods, camp site, and the emotional roller coaster Melly is riding. The friendships between the characters are delicate and complex and realistically portrayed. Melly’s first crush is explored innocently without unnecessary focus or dramatization.
A beautifully written, well executed story full of heart where each page turn brings more feels. Suitable for middle- grade readers and up.
Embrace your inner rocker and enjoy!