Alex is looking forward to spending the summer (as she’s always done) with her best friend, Will. Will’s mother runs the concession stand at their community pool, and both kids have spent several summers playing games at the pool. This summer, though, a schoolmate named Rebekah has eyes for Will — and him for her! As Rebekah and Will begin a tentative crush-friendship, Alex feels threatened and ropes Will into a big summer project (building their treehouse) for which they’ll need several summer jobs to afford building supplies. Surprisingly to Alex, Rebekah also wants to be her friend too. Can Alex get over her jealousy and other issues in her life to figure out this summer friendship drama?
Review | Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone
Tae Keller’s newest middle grade book, Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone, opens with new girl Jennifer Chan declared missing at her middle school. As whispers begin, her next-door neighbor Mallory Moss worries that Jennifer may have been abducted by aliens (which Jennifer believed existed). Mallory reunites with two former friends begging them to help her find Jennifer following clues from her time with Jennifer and the diary Jennifer left behind. The story alternates between past and present as readers discover that Mallory’s search is also motivated by an ulterior motive: the need to prove that she and her popular friends didn’t run Jennifer Chan out of town with their bullying.
Review | Honeybees and Frenemies
Flor’s parents’ mattress store is struggling this summer, and her parents are fighting more than ever. The summer seems to get brighter when she gets a chance to be in their town’s local honey pageant with her frenemy (former friend turned bitter enemy) Candice. The girls’ friendship was ruined when Flor won the pageant in third grade, and Candice (the runner-up) suggested that she only won because she was half-Indian. Can the girls make it work now? And with Flor make it through the summer with her family intact?
Review | A Galaxy of Sea Stars
In A Galaxy of Sea Stars, we meet Izzy whose dad recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan and is dealing with PTSD while trying to build a new business since he won’t be returning to the war front. Izzy’s mother is away on a neighboring island, taking time away from her marriage under the guise of helping out an extended family member. Izzy herself is feeling a bit lost as her friend group “the sea stars” seems to be changing and Zelda, the queen bee of the group is trying to keep them together by making all three of them join the school’s broadcasting club. As if things aren’t hard enough, Izzy’s dad introduces her to a friend who’s just moved from Afghanistan with his family and Izzy seems to be saddled with befriending their daughter Sitara who will be attending the same school. Sitara wears a hijab and seems so different from anyone Izzy knows. As Izzy’s friendship issues and Sitara’s being bullied at school collide, Izzy will learn what it means to be brave.
Review | Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins
In Grow Up, Tahlia Wilkins, young Tahlia is excited to redeem herself at the end of school summer party hosted by the popular kid, Noah. The year before, she’d dressed in what she now realizes was a childish outfit (wearing a rashguard and shorts) while everyone else wore fancy swimsuits. This year, she’s ready to correct her mistakes and make a statement with her best friend Lily. That is until she gets her first period. It’s more stressful because her mother is out of town leaving her with her dad and two older brothers whom she can’t stand to tell about her period. With only Lily on her side, Tahlia has to figure out how to buy pads and tampons, use a tampon, avoid toxic shock syndrome, and make it to the pool party. Unbeknownst to her, life has a couple of other changes in store for Tahlia.
Review | Join the Club, Maggie Diaz
New seventh-grader Maggie Diaz is not the most organized person. But she’s trying to become her best self this school year so she can win her parents’ trust and get a new phone by the end of the year. She soon finds out that getting on honor roll is not that easy. Worse still, Maggie’s dealing with so many changes. Her best friends have joined after-school clubs to pursue their interests and have little or no time for Maggie (who can’t seem to find her interests). Since her Abuelo died, her Abuela has become her roommate and Maggie just wants some alone time! Will Maggie find her place and “join the club”?
Review | Wishing on the Same Stars
Wishing on the Same Stars in a debut middle grade novel by Arab-American author Jacquetta Nammar Feldman. It follows young Palestinian-American Yasmeen Khoury whose parents move from Detroit (which has a thriving Arab-American community) to San Antonio, Texas where there are few to no other Arab-American families. But just before Yasmeen despairs, she discovers that their next door neighbors are Arab-Americans too — only, they’re Israeli-American, not Palestinian-American. She befriends their daughter Ayelet, but her father is not pleased, especially with the current Palestinian-Israeli tensions. On top of adjusting to a new school and finding her place in the world, can Yasmeen help her dad see beyond the differences?
Review | Nikki on the Line
In Nikki on the Line, 13-year-old Nikki Doyle feels one step closer to her pro basketball player dreams when she gets signed on to an elite-level club team. But her mother doesn’t have enough to pay for the club, and so Nikki offers to watch her little brother after school so they can save on daycare money. Unfortunately, playing for the club isn’t nearly as easy as Nikki expects.
Review | Pizza My Heart
Pizza My Heart follows young Maya Reynolds whose parents are moving from Brooklyn, New York to a small town in Pennsylvania to expand their soul pizza business, Soul Slice. Having grown up in Brooklyn, Maya is devastated to have to leave her best friend and life behind for the move. In the new town, she gets off on the wrong foot with her first pizza delivery customer, who ends up being the son of her parents’ new interior decorator. Add a love for art, a new art exhibition she wants to join but may be unable to, new friends, and a potential new crush — Maya’s life quickly gets interesting.
Review | The Flyers
Four girls from different backgrounds are selected to become “The Flyers” for Spread Your Wings Magazine. Elena is a shy Latina who lives in her best friend’s shadow and is uncomfortable about the pubescent changes in her body. Harlow is a Japanese-American wannabe journalist, Cailin, a young influencer, and Whitney, a Black fashionista who secretly has panic attacks. The girls spend a week in New York City together than bonds them as friends and gives them the courage to find their voices.
Review | XOXO
XOXO is about a Korean-American teen and cello prodigy, Jenny. One night she meets and likes a stranger, Jaewoo. They basically go on a date, take photos in a photo booth and exchange numbers, only for Jaewoo to stop responding to her texts. When her grandmother becomes sick, Jenny’s mother decides to travel to South Korea to look after her. She eventually agrees that Jenny can transfer schools and move with her. But soon after they arrive, Jenny realizes that Jaewoo is 1/4th of the popular new boy band, XOXO — and is forbidden from dating.
Review | Partly Cloudy
Things are looking partly cloudy for Madalyn Thomas and her family. After being out of work for the last 7 months, her dad has found work in another state and her mom’s schedule as a social worker has become more packed from taking on overtime. Madalyn’s parents send her to live with her Great Uncle Papa Lobo during the week to allow her to attend school in a different district because of security issues at her former school. But as the only Black girl in class, Madalyn faces a new set of challenges at this new school.