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Lynnfield Public Library

Realistic Fiction Book Suggestions for Middle Schoolers

These books are available at the Lynnfield Public Library and are great for middle schoolers looking for realistic fiction. Click the book cover or title to go directly to our catalog, where you can put the book on hold for pick up. Many of the books are also available as ebooks and audiobooks from Libby or hoopla. The books are ordered from newest to oldest, so new additions to this list will always be at the top! Email Lauren at lfox@noblenet.org for more recommendations or information about any of these books.

Dress CodedDress Coded by Carrie Firestone:

Molly Frost is FED UP… Because Olivia was yelled at for wearing a tank top. Because Liza got dress coded and Molly didn’t, even though they were wearing the exact same outfit. Because when Jessica was pulled over by the principal and missed a math quiz, her teacher gave her an F. Because it’s impossible to find shorts that are longer than her fingertips. Because girls’ bodies are not a distraction. Because middle school is hard enough. And so Molly starts a podcast where girls can tell their stories, and before long, her small rebellion swells into a revolution. Because now the girls are standing up for what’s right, and they’re not backing down. 7/7/2020

 

I'll Be the OneI’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee:

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and she’s about to break all the rules that society and even her own mother have set for girls like her. When Skye nails her audition for internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, she’s swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho. But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself. 6/16/2020

 

The Henna WarsThe Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar:

Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Flávia is beautiful and charismatic, and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangled―but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back. As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance. 5/12/2020

 

Turtle BoyTurtle Boy by M. Evan Wolkenstein:

Seventh grade is not going well for Will Levine. Kids bully him because of his funny-looking chin. His science teacher finds out about the turtles he spent his summer collecting from the marsh behind school and orders him to release them. And for his bar mitzvah community service project, he has to go to the hospital to visit RJ, an older boy struggling with an incurable disease. Unfortunately, Will hates hospitals. Then, RJ shares his bucket list with Will. Among the things he wants to do: ride a roller coaster, go to a concert and a school dance, and swim in the ocean. To Will, happiness is hanging out in his room, alone, preferably with his turtles. But as RJ’s disease worsens, Will realizes he needs to tackle the bucket list on his new friend’s behalf before it’s too late. 5/5/2020

 

What Lane?What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado:

“STAY IN YOUR LANE.” Stephen doesn’t want to hear that–he wants to have no lane. Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn’t think it’s his lane, but he goes. Here’s the thing, though: Can he do everything his friends can? Lately, he’s not so sure. As a mixed kid, he feels like he’s living in two worlds with different rules–and he’s been noticing that strangers treat him differently than his white friends . . . So what’ll he do? Hold on tight as Stephen swerves in and out of lanes to find out which are his–and who should be with him. 4/14/2020

 

Mary UnderwaterMary Underwater by Shannon Doleski:

Mary Murphy feels like she’s drowning. Her violent father is home from prison, and the social worker is suspicious of her new bruises. An aunt she’s never met keeps calling. And if she can’t get a good grade on her science project, she’ll fail her favorite class. But Mary doesn’t want to be a victim anymore. She has a plan: build a real submarine, like the model she’s been making with Kip Dwyer, the secretly sweet class clown. Gaining courage from her heroine, Joan of Arc, Mary vows to pilot a sub across the Chesapeake Bay, risking her life in a modern crusade to save herself. 4/7/2020

 

 

What I Like About MeWhat I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume:

You know all those movies where teenagers have, like, THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES? This vacation is probably not going to be that. The last thing sixteen-year-old Maisie Martin thought she’d be doing over vacation is entering a beauty pageant. Not when she’s spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone. Not when her Dad is AWOL and her gorgeous older sister has returned to rock Maisie’s already shaky confidence. And especially not when her best friend starts flirting with the boy she’s always loved. But Maisie’s got something to prove.
As she writes down all the ways this vacation is going from bad to worse in her school-assignment journal, what starts as a homework torture-device might just end up being an account of how Maisie didn’t let anything, or anyone, hold her back. 4/1/2020

 

Things You Can't SayThings You Can’t Say by Jenn Bishop:

Nothing is going right this summer for Drew. And after losing his dad three years ago, Drew knows a lot about things not going right. First, it’s the new girl Audrey taking over everything at the library, Drew’s sacred space. Then it’s his best friend, Filipe, pulling away from him. But most upsetting has to be the mysterious man who is suddenly staying with Drew’s family. An old friend of Mom’s? Drew isn’t buying that. With an unlikely ally in Audrey, he’s determined to get to the bottom of who this man really is. 3/3/2020

 

 

ItchItch by Polly Farquhar:

Isaac’s sixth grade year gets off to a rough start. A tornado tears the roof off the school cafeteria. His mother leaves on a two month business trip to China. And as always. . . . there’s the itch. It comes out of nowhere. It starts small, but it spreads, and soon–it’s everywhere. It’s everything. It’s why everyone calls him Itch–everyone except his best friend Sydney, the only one in all of Ohio who’s always on his side. He’s doing the best he can to get along–until everything goes wrong in the middle of a lunch swap. When Sydney collapses and an ambulance is called, Itch blames himself. And he’s not the only one. When you have no friends at all, wouldn’t you do anything–even something you know you shouldn’t–to get them back? 2/4/2020

 

The Gravity of UsThe Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper:

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus. Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels–fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him. 2/4/2020

 

Dog DrivenDog Driven by Terry Lynn Johnson:

McKenna Barney is trying to hide her worsening eyesight and has been isolating herself for the last year. But at the request of her little sister, she signs up for a commemorative mail run race in the Canadian wilderness—a race she doesn’t know if she can even see to run. Winning would mean getting her disease—and her sister’s—national media coverage, but it would also pit McKenna and her team of eight sled dogs against racers from across the globe for three days of shifting lake ice, sudden owl attacks, snow squalls, and bitterly cold nights. 12/3/2019

 

 

All American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney:

Allie Abraham has it all going for her:  she’s a straight-A student, with good friends, a close family, and a great boyfriend, Wells. One problem: Wells’ father is a famous conservative shock jock… and Allie hasn’t told Wells that her family is Muslim. Her religion isn’t a secret, but her family raised her to keep her Islamic heritage to herself. As Allie witnesses Islamophobia in her small town and across the nation, she begins to embrace her faith. Who is Allie, if she sheds the façade of the “perfect” all-American girl? What does it mean to be a “Good Muslim?” And can a Muslim girl in America ever truly fit in? 11/12/2019

 

 

Shine! by [J.J. Grabenstein, Chris Grabenstein]Shine by J.J. and Chris Grabenstein:

Shine on! might be the catchphrase of twelve-year-old Piper’s hero – astronaut, astronomer, and television host Nellie Dumont Friss – but Piper knows the truth: some people are born to shine, and she’s just not one of them. That fact has never been clearer than now, since her dad’s new job has landed them both at Chumley Prep, a posh private school where everyone seems to be the best at something and where Piper definitely doesn’t fit in. Bursting with humor, heart, science, possibilities, and big questions, Shine! is a story about figuring out who you are and who you want to be. 11/5/2019

 

 

Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee:

For seventh grader Mila, it starts with  an unwanted hug at recess. The next day, it’s another hug. A smirk. Comments. It all feels…weird. According to her friend Zara, Mila is being immature, overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like? But it keeps happening, despite Mila’s protests. On the bus, in the halls. Even during band practice-the one time Mila could always escape to her “blue-sky” feeling. It seems like the boys are EVERYWHERE. And it doesn’t feel like flirting–so what is it? When Mila is finally pushed too far, she realizes she can’t battle this on her own. 10/22/2019

 

 

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds:

This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen. They were all too busy – Talking about boogers. Stealing pocket change. Skateboarding. Wiping out. Braving up. Executing complicated handshakes. Planning an escape. Making jokes. Lotioning up. Finding comfort. But mostly, too busy walking home. Jason Reynolds conjures ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings and at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life. 10/8/2019

 

 

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow:

Hazel knows a lot about the world. That’s because when she’s not hanging with her best friend, taking care of her dog, or helping care for the goats on her family’s farm, she loves reading through dusty encyclopedias. But even Hazel doesn’t have answers for the questions awaiting her as she enters eighth grade. What if no one at her new school gets her, and she doesn’t make any friends? What’s going to happen to one of her moms, who’s pregnant again after having two miscarriages? Why does everything have to change when life was already perfectly fine? 10/8/2019

 

 

The Best at ItThe Best at It by Maulik Pancholy:

Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him anxious, so his favorite person, his grandfather Bhai, gives him some advice: Find one thing you’re good at and become the BEST at it. While Rahul’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge. . . But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything? 10/8/2019

 

 

Who Put This Song On?Who Put This Song On? by Morgan Parker:

Trapped in sunny, stifling, small-town suburbia, seventeen-year-old Morgan knows why she’s in therapy. She can’t count the number of times she’s been the only non-white person at the sleepover, been teased for her “weird” outfits, and been told she’s not “really” black. Also, she’s spent most of her summer crying in bed. So there’s that, too. Lately, it feels like the whole world is listening to the same terrible track on repeat–and it’s telling them how to feel, who to vote for, what to believe. Morgan wonders, when can she turn this song off and begin living for herself? 9/24/2019

 

 

It's a Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes, and Other Jewish StoriesIt’s a Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes, and Other Jewish Stories edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman:

A Jewish boy falls in love with a fellow counselor at summer camp. A group of Jewish friends take the trip of a lifetime. A girl meets her new boyfriend’s family over Shabbat dinner. Two friends put their friendship to the test. A Jewish girl feels pressure to date the only Jewish boy in her grade. Pranks and disaster ensue at a crush’s Hanukkah party. From stories of confronting their relationships with Judaism to rom-coms with a side of bagels and lox, It’s a Whole Spiel features stories that say yes, we are Jewish, but we are also queer, and disabled, and creative, and adventurous, and anything we want to be. 9/17/2019

 

 

Free LunchFree Lunch by Rex Ogle:

The start of middle school brings about unwanted changes in young Rex’s life. His old friendships devolve as his school friends join the football team and slowly edge him out. Rex and his baby brother often go hungry, wear secondhand clothes, and don’t have required school supplies. To make things worse, Rex is on his school’s free lunch program. Grounded in the immediacy of physical hunger and the humiliation of having to announce it every day in the school lunch line, Rex’s is a compelling story of a more profound hunger―that of a child for his parents’ love and care. 9/10/2019

 

 

Planet Earth Is BluePlanet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos:

Twelve-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home. While foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understands Nova. As the liftoff draws closer, Nova’s new foster family and teachers begin to see her potential, and she’s making friends. But every day, she’s counting down to the launch, and to the moment when she’ll see Bridget again. 5/14/2019

 

 

Up for AirUp For Air by Laurie Morrison:

Thirteen-year-old Annabelle struggles in school, no matter how hard she tries. But when she dives into the pool, she’s unstoppable. She’s the fastest girl on the middle school swim team, and when she’s asked to join the high school team over the summer, everything changes. Suddenly, she’s got new friends, and a high school boy starts treating her like she’s special. Annabelle will do anything to fit in and help the team make it to the Labor Day Invitational. But after a prank goes wrong, Annabelle is abandoned by the older boy and can’t swim. Who is she without the one thing she’s good at? 5/7/2019

 

 

Shouting at the RainShouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt:

Delsie loves tracking the weather. Lately, though, it seems the squalls are in her own life. She’s always lived with her kindhearted Grammy, but now she wishes she could have a “regular family.” Delsie observes other changes too, the most painful being a friend who’s outgrown her. Luckily, she has Ronan, a new friend who is caring and courageous but also troubled by the losses he’s endured. As Ronan and Delsie traipse around Cape Cod on their adventures, they both learn what it means to be angry versus sad, broken versus whole, and abandoned versus loved. And that, together, they can weather any storm. 5/8/2019

 

The Great JeffThe Great Jeff by Tony Abbott:

Life hasn’t been great for Jeff Hicks. After years at St. Catherine’s, he’s forced to spend eighth grade in the public middle school, which he hates. He’s no longer speaking to his former best friend, Tom Bender, because of “that burned girl” Jessica Feeney. But worst of all, his family is changing, and it’s not for the better. When his mom comes home announcing that she’s lost her job, Jeff begins to worry about things far beyond his years: How will they pay the rent? Will his absentee dad step up and save the day? Is his mom drinking too much? And ultimately, where will they live? 3/19/2019

 

 

Good Enough by Jen Petro-Roy:

Before she had an eating disorder, twelve-year-old Riley was many things: an aspiring artist, a runner, a sister, and a friend. But now, from inside the inpatient treatment center where she’s receiving treatment for anorexia, it’s easy to forget all of that. Especially since under the influence of her eating disorder, Riley alienated her friends and destroyed her family’s trust. If Riley wants her life back, she has to recover. But when her roommate starts to break the rules, triggering Riley’s old behaviors and blackmailing her into silence, Riley realizes that recovery will be harder than she thought. 2/19/2019

 

 

The Bridge HomeThe Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman:

Life is harsh in Chennai’s teeming streets, so when runaway sisters Viji and Rukku arrive, their prospects look grim. Very quickly, Viji discovers how vulnerable they are in this uncaring, dangerous world. The girls find shelter and friendship. With two homeless boys, Muthi and Arul, the group forms a family of sorts. And while making a living scavenging the city’s trash heaps is the pits, the kids find plenty to laugh about and take pride in too. But when illness strikes, Viji must decide whether to risk seeking help from strangers or to keep holding on to their fragile, hard-fought freedom. 2/5/2019

 

 

Genesis Begins AgainGenesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams:

There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant—even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. Now Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma, and Grandma and Mom always fight. But Genesis likes her new school, and her choir teacher encourages her to join the talent show. But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again? 1/15/2019

 

Darius the Great Is Not OkayDarius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram:

Darius is about to take his first trip to Iran, and it’s overwhelming, especially when he’s dealing with clinical depression and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his mom’s family, and he meets Sohrab, the boy who changes everything. Sohrab makes people speak English so Darius understands. He gets Darius an Iranian football jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian. Sohrab calls him Darioush, the Persian version of his name, and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now. When it’s time to go home, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own. 8/28/2018

 

 

Fresh Ink: An AnthologyFresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles:

Careful–you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written–whose next chapters are up to you. Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared. Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink. 8/14/2018

 

 

Apple in the MiddleApple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley:

Apple Starkington turned her back on her Native American heritage the moment she was called a racial slur. Not that she really even knew HOW to be an Indian in the first place. Apple’s name, chosen by her Indian mother on her deathbed, has a double meaning: treasured apple of my eye, but also a person who is red, or Indian, on the outside, but white on the inside. One summer, Apple reluctantly agrees to visit her Native American relatives on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in northern North Dakota for the first time.There, she learns what it means to find her place in a world divided by color. 8/2/2018

 

 

Drum Roll, PleaseDrum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow:

Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse. Now, she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods. But this summer brings big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself falling for a girl at camp named Adeline. To top it off, Melly’s not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock ‘n’ roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart? 6/26/2019

 

 

The Miscalculations of Lightning GirlThe Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty:

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. But Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation? 5/1/2018