In the Middle of Reading: Book Reviews
We continue our book review series today with some must-read titles for middle school readers, brought to us by Gabija Fischer. If you missed them, don’t forget to check out some YA titles adolescents will love, as well as a preview of an exciting, upcoming title for younger readers. And for a professional read, be sure to check out our review of Tom Newkirk’s latest here.
By Gabija Fischer
In The Fourteenth Goldfish, Jennifer Holm presents the story of 11 year-old Ellie and her relationship with her scientist grandfather. His discovery on reversing the effects of aging resulted in his looking like a teenage boy. Teenage boys belong in school, so Ellie and her grandfather quickly become classmates. Not only is their relationship tested as they try to negotiate life at school as classmates, but also as Ellie begins to question the effects of certain scientific discoveries. A little adventure, a little philosophy, some science, and a lot of fun, this book is sure to please a wide audience. The quirky characters held my interest through the story, and the questions raised about science will hold my interest for a long time.
Ann Martin tells the story of Rose Howard and her dog in Rain Reign. While she struggles to connect with others (even with her own father), Rose finds meaning and comfort in homonyms and “prime number names.” Rain Reign is a heartwarming story about Rose’s relationship with her father, her dog, her uncle, and her classmates. Although Rose’s obsession with homonyms may distract some readers, Martin’s drawing attention to homonyms allowed me to empathize with Rose, a sweet and innocent girl. Reminding us of the importance of kindness and acceptance, this story will appeal to not only word lovers, but also those who have ever felt alone and those who have ever had to consider what is right and wrong.
In Sarah Crossan’s The Weight of Water, Kasienka, known to her classmates as Cassie, narrates her story as a recent immigrant through a collection of simple free-verse poems. Heralding from Poland, she faces not only the challenges associated with assimilation into her new life in England, but also the challenge of searching for her father who left the family. As a talented swimmer, Cassie finds solace in the swimming pool where her heart flutters for William, one of few people who accept Cassie for who she is. Crossan captures the beauty of Cassie and her struggles in a way that feels like floating on water. This story tugged at my emotions and captured my attention as poetry often does. Crossan’s debut novel does not disappoint, as my heart ached for Cassie through her journey of discovery, but in her journey there is a comfort and hope.
Gabija Fischer currently works in the Tredyffrin Easttown School District. She has been immersed in young adult and children’s literature this school year since she is currently working as the library media specialist at the middle school. The best part of her day is the part that follows the question, “Can you help me find a book?” Finding the answer to that question feeds her competitive nature, as she views the search like solving a puzzle. She finds much excitement in finding just the right book for someone.