The Best Worst Summer follows two sets of kids three decades apart. In the present, Peyton and her family have just moved from Minneapolis to a small town named Lake Springs, leaving her best friend and their summer soccer camp tradition behind. She’s having the worst summer! Her brother is always playing video games. Plus, her mom’s new job has her pretty occupied, just as her dad’s graphic design job. But her summer gains new life when she discovers a box of secrets: a cryptic note to a friend, half of a “best friends” necklace, a playlist and several other items.
In these middle-grade books about adoption, you’ll find orphaned kids, kids in the foster care system, kids being fostered by grandparents or other family members, and those adjusting to being newly adopted. Most of the books on this list are contemporary middle-grade books, but after majorly crowdsourcing titles on Twitter, I’ve also included a few repeatedly mentioned fantasy titles at the end of this post.
Cyrus Olson does not think he’s “brave like that.” He’s not brave like his adoptive firefighter father who was also a star football player in his day. Although he plays football for his school team, he does not enjoy it, and would much rather be doing something else, but he’s afraid to let his dad (and the town that knows him to be an Olson) down. But Cyrus gets some motivation to stand up for himself and his desires when a dog is abandoned at the fire station (just like Cyrus was).
Flora and Julian are siblings who’ve been in foster care for as long they both can remember. Now they’ve been adopted by Emily, who Flora refers to as [her] “Person” in her head. Emily’s new husband who has a daughter, Elena, from a previous marriage also adopts Flora and Julian. However, both kids carry obvious trauma from years of bouncing between different parents. They’re convinced that they weren’t born, and have different theories as to how they came to be. Flora struggles with verbalizing emotions, becoming non-verbal in periods of stress while Julian hoards food in his wardrobe, because of an ingrained fear of hunger.