Quintero, Sofia. Efrain's Secret.
Efrain has worked very hard to do well in school and on his SAT's so that he can go to an Ivy League College, hopefully Harvard, because he wants to escape the life of poverty he lives with his single mother and younger sister. He's on track to be valedictorian and is pursuing all possibles avenues of financial aid, but he knows it won't be enough. When an old friend gives him the opportunity to make some easy cash running drugs, it seems like a good idea, but leads to all manner of complications. This is a great book for high school students, and perfectly clean enough for middle school, but it is so heavily concentrated on college that middle school students might not be as interested. I would like to see a middle grade novel by Quintero, though.
Brown, Linda Beatrice. Black Angels.
During the Civil War, three children take off on their own for various reasons-- Luke and Daylily are runaway slaves, and Caswell's mother was killed when his house burned. The three join forces and try to survive. They eventually meet up with Betty Strong Foot, who takes them in and cares for them for some time, but the main thrust of this book is the terrible privations and dangers that the children face at all points during the war, and even after, when Caswell's father joins the Klan. This was a riveting survival story, but was slightly confusing at times, between the dialect and the children's view point. Still, a different point of view for a Civil War collection.