Contemporary Realistic Fiction

This category contains 170 posts


11-year-old Scoob (William) jumps at his grandmother’s invitation to accompany her on a road trip in her new RV. He doesn’t know why or where she’s heading but Scoob is anxious to escape his current grounding and the crushing weight of his father’s disappointment at home. Scoob is increasingly concerned by his G’ma’s demeanor and … Continue reading

LOOK BOTH WAYS by Jason Reynolds

Usually I enjoy Jason Reynold’s work. Look Both Ways? Not so much. Part of my problem–I think–were my expectations of the book. The jacket copy read: Jason Reynolds weaves ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings, into one wickedly funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the … Continue reading


There are many things about The Boy at the Back of the Class that make it a great reading choice for the younger middle grades–more 3rd & 4th grade specifically. Alexa is 9 3/4 years old. A new student named Ahmet appears one day at the formerly empty desk at the back of the classroom. Alexa’s … Continue reading


Orbiting Jupiter is a beautiful story, ultimately about compassion, kindness and empathy. The story is partially about fourteen-year-old Joseph Brook, and is told by twelve-year-old Jack. Jack’s perspective provides the second half of the story. Jack’s family lives on a farm in Maine. At the beginning of the book Joseph comes to live with Jack’s … Continue reading


When we first meet 12-year-old Jude she is living in Syria with her parents and her older brother, Issa. Jude and her friend Fatima love to watch older American rom-com movies and act them out at home. Jude dreams of being a famous actress like Julia Roberts. As the unrest in Syria builds (mid-2010s), Issa … Continue reading

WILD BIRD by Wendelin Van Draanen

I picked up Wild Bird because it is written by one of my favorite authors for middle grade readers–Wendelin Van Draanen. The Wild Bird of the title is 14-year-old Wren Clemmens. When we initially meet Wren she is stoned and being woken by professional Youth Transporters. We follow this chaotic, emotional scene as Wren is … Continue reading

GENESIS BEGINS AGAIN by Alicia D. Williams

After finishing Genesis Begins Again I wanted to live with the experience of reading it for a day or two before I wrote a review. I have now had the opportunity to do just that. Genesis is thirteen years old.  We first meet her as she is coming home from school–bringing friends with her for … Continue reading


December Lee Morgan is eleven years old.  She has been placed in numerous foster homes over the past three years. December is convinced that the scars on her back are from where her wings once existed–and where they will break free from her human body again, returning her to her rightful form as a bird.  … Continue reading

THE LOSERS CLUB by Andrew Clements…a 2020 LOVELACE nominee Division I

I know it will be unpopular for me to make this first admission: Andrew Clements’ books are really hit or miss for me.  I know that younger readers enjoy them–his work is sought after in school libraries all the time–but they just don’t usually hit the mark for me. Sometimes I find them too affectedly … Continue reading

A TIME TO DANCE by Padma Venkatraman

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman was a 4.5/5 star read for me! After reading Venkatraman’s most recent work–the middle grade novel The Bridge Home–I was curious about her backlist.  A Time to Dance was originally published in 2014.  The main character is Veda Venkat, a young, Indian girl who is extremely talented and skilled … Continue reading