Middle School can be a little rough for anyone, but for Ross, it’s especially rough. He’s just been diagnosed with cancer of his eye! So not only does he have to go for radiation treatments, he also has to go to school wearing an eye patch (like a pirate!), and he has to keep putting some sort of eye “goop” on his eye all through the day at school. It can’t get much worse than this, right?
But it does. His hair begins to fall out, and there’s a chance he may lose his sight in that eye. 7th Grade would be a completely miserable year if it weren’t for his band.
Oh, yeah! His band! That’s a real high point! Will it be enough to get him to get through the school year?
Author Rob Harrell actually lived this life and then wrote a book about it for us. Read to see how Ross’s school year goes.
Harmony Music Camp is a big deal. You have to apply and be accepted for camp, and each week you audition for your seat in the band.
This is Andi’s first year at camp, and it kind of feels like her aunt and uncle are trying to get rid of her for the summer. Her mother died ten months ago and she hasn’t been able to adjust to life with her aunt and uncle or enjoy the things she used to, like playing the trumpet.
Zora has been going for many years and has many friends, but because she and Andi are black, people seem to think they should be best friends. And at first, they are definitely not. Andi wears all black and mostly keeps to herself. Zora is bubbly and colorful and friends with everyone. But behind it all, Zora feels all this anxiety to be the best and make her parents happy. And as Andi and Zora get to know one another, they grow closer. Each helps the other be truer to herself and happier.
If you couldn’t already tell, this book deals with some difficult subjects: death of a parent and anxiety among them, but also self-harm. However, this is also the story of first love and a first kiss.
Do you believe in aliens? The new girl, Jennifer, does, but Mallory knows admitting that would make Jennifer an outcast. Mallory decides to help Jennifer to fit in, but when Jennifer goes missing, she has to admit that maybe her “help” was actually bullying.
Mallory wants to find Jennifer, so she looks for clues in Jennifer’s journals, and asks her former friends to help. As they search, weird things start happening; things that could be connected to Jennifer’s disappearance, or even aliens. Will Mallory risk her popularity and current friendships to find Jennifer?
This story is told by Mallory, who goes back and forth from talking about what happened before and after Jennifer’s disappearance. She can be an unreliable narrator, especially when she tries to convince herself and others that she didn’t do anything wrong. Reading a story from the perspective of the bully was new and interesting to me. This was an interesting and realistic mystery, with the best kind of mischief (to help find the truth). The author writes at the end of the book about her own experience being bullied as a child, and I really, really appreciated that. This story was exciting, sad, even funny sometimes, and I recommend it to fans of mysteries and books like Wonder and Restart.
Bees are not my favorite (since I have been stung many times) but I know they are important. The author makes the reader care about honey bees by describing their growth and development. He personalizes it by telling us about one bee, Nyuki. I learned why honey bees are so important and I also care about what happens to them because Mr. Hosler told the story in a beautiful way.
Ariel Goldberg is in middle school, dealing with friendship and learning challenges. Ariel is also dealing with family issues, as her beloved older sister Leah leaves home to marry Raj, the Indian man that she has fallen in love with. When Leah’s parents refuse to accept the marriage, Ariel realizes that it is through poetry that she is best able to communicate her feelings about all that is happening in her life.
This story takes place shortly after the Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virgina in 1967 and is inspired by the author’s own family history.