Green, Tim. Football Genius (2007).
Must admit that I bought all the Tim Green books and the AR tests for them without reading them. Luckily, I was pleased with Football Genius. Troy and his single mother are struggling a bit, but she gets a job with the Atlanta Falcons. This allows her to have a pass to games, and when Troy realizes that the players are not anticipating the plays the way he is, he uses his pass to try to get to the coach. This is not a good idea, and his mother is temporarily fired. Troy also makes the bad decision to steal an official football from a player's yard, but when the player comes to retrieve it, he realizes that Troy does have the ability to predict game plays, and the team can use this to their advantage. I didn't like this one as much as Dygard or Deuker; Troy was kind of a snot. Still, these are fine and popular. And who knew that the Falcons were a real team? Never heard of them. Some of the characters in the book seem to be real people, and Tim Green did play for the Falcons from '86-'93.
Wayland, April Halprin. Girl Coming in for a Landing.
This is a novel in verse, which I normally loathe, so when I say this is not bad, it is high praise indeed. The saving grace is that it is comprised of individual poems on a variety of topics. Not formal verse, but not horrible. The biggest problem for me was the inclusion of a fuzzy picture of a naked girl. This appears to be out of print, so I will have to pass.
Gramont, Nina. Every Little Thing in the World.
Can't say that I would choose to put a picture of a half-naked girl kayaking on the cover of a book about a 16 year old who is pregnant, but here we are. Teen pregnancy is certainly an issue middle school girls like to investigate, but this book's main character Sydney, makes such utterly poor choices all around that this is not the vehicle for them. Aside from the casual, unprotected sex, there's alcohol use, denial, and general bad behavior.
Friend, Natasha. For Keeps.
Picky Reader is such a huge Natasha Friend fan (Lush, Bounce, Perfect) that I was disappointed in For Keeps, but at least the cover style change makes it apparent that this is not a similar book. I liked the main premise of the book, that a girl whose single mother was abandoned by the girl's father meets up with him again when the girl is 16, but the girl herself is making decisions like making out with another girl's boyfriend and drinking. In fact, even the parents make poor decisions. I can't imagine taking my 16-year-old daughter to a party and telling her "'One beer each. No liquor. And absolutely no drugs.'...I know Pops is trying to be a responsible parent." No. No, he's not. I don't care if he will discuss anything with his children, this is not responsible parenting. I liked the matter-of-fact depiction of the family with two fathers, but this is not a book for middle school. Drat.
Greene, Michele. Keep Sweet.
Got Ellen Hopkins fans? Then go right ahead and buy this book about a polygamist sect in Utah where a young girl, after she foolishly kisses the boy she likes, is forced to become the sixth wife of a violent, middle aged man who then repeatedly rapes her. I must admit that I read this entire book because it was riveting in a very disturbing way. Great stuff, just not for middle school. I do have this author's Chasing the Jaguar, which is a mystery popular with girl who normally like "pink" books, so I'll watch this author more closely. Maye she'll turn her hand to problem novels without quite so much graphic detail!