Skip to content

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

fourteenth-goldfishIn 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.

rain reignAnn 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.

theweightofwaterIn 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.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Bridget Hanney #

    As a long time bookworm and future language arts teacher, I love discovering new young adult books to possibly add to my classroom library. These selections seem very intriguing and your reviews make me want to delve into each book myself! I remember finding the most comfort in books with protagonists who I could relate to and novels like “The Fourteenth Goldfish” and “Rain Reign” offer this relatable aspect for teens navigating similar emotions. I also liked how you chose books with very different plotlines, types of characters and formatting styles. Students should be exposed to many forms of writing, which includes free verse poems like in “The Weight of Water”. I think all three of these titles would make a wonderful addition to any middle school library where kids can find pleasure within their pages.


    February 15, 2015
    • Gabija #

      Thanks, Bridget, for reading the reviews and the feedback. I enjoyed each of these books. Our teachers actually just selected The Fourteenth Goldfish as the summer reading book. I am excited to hear what the tudent a think of it too! Enjoy and please let me know what you think if you end up reading any of these.


      April 6, 2015
  2. janiceewing #

    Each of these books sounds amazing in its own way. Your reviews gave me just enough of a preview to want to read them, without giving away too much. Thank you!


    February 10, 2015
    • Gabija #

      Thanks, Janice. I would love to hear what you think of the books if you end up reading any of them.


      April 6, 2015

We'd love to hear what you think! Please comment below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: