Middle School Book Reviews

Searching for a good book? This review looks at four books popular with middle schoolers.

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Sometimes it seems that reading can be a drag. Usually this is because you are reading a book that doesn't match your interests. Below are reviews for three books and two book series. Each have been read and loved by students across the country.

The Outsiders

This book, first published in 1967, has become a classic for teens across the nation. S.E. Hinton successfully shows how stereotypes and cliques can permanently alter and greatly affect people's lives.

The book focuses on Ponyboy, who has been labeled all his life as a 'greaser'. The greaser's opposing group is the 'socs', kids who have lots of money and can break any rules without getting in trouble. As the novel develops, S.E. Hinton allows the reader to see exactly how these labels affect teens in both the greaser and the soc group.

If you've ever watched the movie The Outsiders, this story may sound familiar, as the movie was based on the book. S.E. Hinton worked with director Francis Coppola and talented actors such as Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, and Matt Dillon to adapt the story into a movie. If you liked the movie, you'll probably really love the book. The Outsiders gives teens a look into life in the '50s and '60s, offering timeless lessons that still apply to today's youth.

Out of the Dust

Any student interested in the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl should read Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. Hesse is able to capture the mood and spirit of this era through the use of poetry. The main character of the book, Billie Jo, is growing up in Oklahoma, the heart of the Dust Bowl. Through free verse poetry, Billie Jo narrates her tale of poverty and survival during this difficult time.

Out of the Dust is an excellent lesson in history and family. Due to the short length and writing style, the book is a quick but worthwhile read. By the end of the book, the reader is eager to start the story over again. Hesse is able to pack a lot of emotion and details into her short book, making the story very real and believable.

The Giver

The Giver depicts a perfect society in which citizens experience no pain, have never felt fear, and life is completely under control. However, as the reader progresses through the story, it's easy to see that this community is far from utopia. Instead, through the experiences felt by the main character Jonas, the reader learns there is a lot that is missing from life in this world.

During the Ceremony of the Twelves, each 12-year-old is assigned their life long career in the community. Jonas is chosen to be the Receiver of Memories, a very special job assigned to one person at a time. When Jonas receives his training, he learns many truths about his community that change how he feels about his life, making him determined to do something to change it.

The Giver is a good book for teens who enjoy science fiction and fantasy. The book makes you examine your own life, values, and beliefs, striving to find how you would define the perfect society.

Anne of Green Gables

This eight book series depicts the life of Anne Shirley, an orphan that is adopted in Prince Edward Island, Canada. The books are set in the 1800s to the 1900s, the last one taking place during WWI. Anne is a loveable, kindred spirit who has many mishaps and laughable experiences when growing up and going to college.

The Anne of Green Gables series is fun to read, creating a strong attachment to the reader making the last book a bittersweet experience. Teenage girl who is looking for a female role model they can relate to will love Anne Shirley.

Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has sold more copies than has any other series in history. The series, which includes seven books in all, follows a boy wizard named Harry Potter.

Harry attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The seven books follow Harry through seven years of wizarding school. During this time, readers experience the wizarding world through Harry's eyes and watch him make friends, learn magic, and fight a wizard so evil that nobody wants to speak his name.

The Harry Potter books are an enchanting read for all ages. No matter who you are, you will find yourself bewitched with the magical world created by J.K. Rowling.

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