When Luz has to stop playing soccer after tearing her ACL, she feels a bit lost. No longer a soccer superstar, who is she? Worse still, her dad, who used to share her love for the sport, seems on eggshells around her. Soon though, Luz stumbles upon a new passion: coding, assisted by Mr. Mac, their elderly neighbor next door. But just as she’s finding her feet, a new family member, Solana, comes to stay with them. Solana’s visit upends Liz’s identity even more. But it may just bring more light into her life than she’s ever expected.
Review | A Song Called Home
A Song Called Home is YA author Sara Zarr’s middle grade debut. It follows Lou as her mom remarries a man named Steve. Lou and her sister Casey have to move from the city to the suburbs to live with Steve, leaving behind their old schools and Lou’s best friend Beth Tsai. Forming this new family is hard on Lou and Casey for different reasons. Lou feels like she’s leaving their alcoholic father behind and Casey worries that Steve is being too nice and the “real Steve” will show up soon. On the day before their move (which is also Lou’s birthday) Lou finds a guitar right outside their old apartment addressed to her. Convinced it’s from her dad, she starts learning to play guitar to maintain that bond with him. As they all navigate the blending of their families, Lou learns about herself and what family truly means.
Review | Violets Are Blue
12-year-old Wren lives with her mom after her parents’ divorce. Her dad has moved to New York City and married his lover (with whom he was unfaithful to her mother) who is now expecting twins. Wren is also a special effects makeup aficionado. Caught up in a new school, navigating new friendships, and balancing her relationships with her parents — whose relationship with each other is strained — Wren notices her mom has begun behaving strangely.
Review | Every Missing Piece
Maddy Gaines is an anxious girl still coping with the grief of her father’s death — and also adjusting to her new stepfather. Home conditions are good: her mother is patient and reassuring, and she and her stepdad go on regular outings together by themselves. One day, Maddy sees on the news that a boy named Billy Holcomb has gone missing. Then several weeks after, she runs into another boy who looks a lot like Billy, except his hair is different and he’s taller than Billy was, and oh — his name is Eric.
Middle-Grade Books About Divorce, Separation, and Blended Families
50 Middle-Grade books about divorce, separation, or/and blended families. This list features novels and graphic novels by a variety of authors.
Review | Glitter Gets Everywhere
Kitty Wentworth is grappling with the grief of losing her mother to lung cancer (even though she never smoked). Her older sister Imogen seems to be coping better and her dad just seems a bit lost. Thankfully, they have their grandmother and a baking enthusiast neighbor Ms. Allison to keep their moods up and care for them. Ms. Allison is also gearing up to start filming The Great British Bake-Off as a contestant. But Kitty’s world shifts when her father gets a work opportunity in New York and wants her and Imogen to move.
Review | Bea Is for Blended
Bea Is for Blended is Lindsay Stoddard’s fourth middle grade novel. Bea’s mother has married her school arch-nemesis’s father. Bryce (her arch-nemesis) is friends with bullies in Bea’s class and they always make fun of her best friend Maximillian who’s on the autism spectrum. Now, as if it wasn’t bad enough that Bea and Bryce share the exact same birth date, now they’ll also share a house and blended family. In the past, it was always just Bea, her mother, and her grandmother — the Embers girls — and her mother’s friend, Aunt Tam. Now Bea has three step-brothers, two dogs, and a cat, and oh a new sibling on the way!
Review | Stella Diaz Dreams Big
Stella Diaz Dreams Big is the third book in the Stella Diaz series and Stella is finally in fourth grade! Her brother Nick is a high schooler, and both he and Stella are shocked by the volume of HOMEWORK they now have to do compared to what they did in their prior classes. Nick is also working part-time at a pizzeria and Stella’s fourth-grade goals have her signing up for several extracurriculars — and stretching herself thin.
Review | Alone by Megan E. Freeman
Alone is Megan E. Freeman’s debut survival middle-grade novel in verse. It follows 12-year-old Maddie who gets abandoned by some twist of fate when her entire town is mysteriously evacuated. Left alone with no human in sight, she bonds with a Rottweiler named George who is one of many abandoned pets. Soon after, they lose power and then water and Maddie has to fend for herself using a variety of ingenious means and the town resources at her disposal, including an empty library, grocery store, and neighbors’ homes.
Review | The Sea in Winter
The Sea in Winter is the story of 12-year-old ballet dancer Maisie Cannon who is recovering from a torn ACL. Maisie is Native American and part of a blended family; her mom remarried after her father’s death and she has a younger half-brother. With regard to her heritage, her mom is Makah, her father was Piscataway, and her stepfather, Jack, is from the Elwha Klallam Tribe.
Maisie is miserable because her two closest (and only) friends Eva and Hattie are also ballerinas and now that she isn’t dancing, it’s too difficult to maintain her friendships with them. She’s also struggling with how slowly she’s recovering and is a bit depressed in general because of how much she loves ballet how tightly woven into her identity it was.
Review | Forever, or a Long, Long Time
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.
Review | Emily Out of Focus
Emily’s parents travel to China to adopt her little sister, they learn about Chinese culture and trans-racial/continental adoption. Emily also meets Katherine, a girl her age who was adopted from China and is — unbeknownst to anyone but Emily — looking for her birth mother.