Some young adult books work in a middle school setting; some do not. Often, it isn't until halfway through a perfectly fine title that I think "No, not going to work." By that time, I want to know how the story ends! These were both interesting reads, but not quite what I need to purchase for my middle school library.
Oppel, Kenneth. Every Hidden Thing
September 20th 2016 by HarperCollins Canada
E ARC from Edelweiss
Samuel Bolt and Rachel Cartland meet after the Civil War at a museum presentation where Sam's father is talking about a dinosaur find he has made. Rachel's father points out that he has put the skeleton together backwards, and fisticuffs ensue. The two break up the fight, and go back to their daily lives. These involve helping out their paleontologists fathers, and soon they are thrown back together as the two groups head out to Nebraska to investigate the same bones. More fossils are found, the two men spar, and the teens fall in love and get married. Who will take credit for the finds, and how will this impact the life of the young couple?
Strengths: Dinosaurs are a great subject for middle school readers, which is one of the reasons that I liked How Not to Become Extinct. The post Civil War setting and the trouble with Native Americans, as well as the lackadaisical but exuberant archaeological methods make this a fun read.
Weaknesses: The romance between Sam and Rachel was a bit much. The descriptions of kissing I could have handled, but once they get married and Rachel doesn't wish to become pregnant and they discuss how this might be accomplished, they lost me. This is a lengthy book (368 pages), which would limit its appeal anyway.
What I really think: I will pass, but this would be an interesting addition to a high school collection, especially where this author's works are popular.
Thompson, Mary G. Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee
October 11th 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
**Warning** This is NOT a creepy haunted doll book.
After having been kidnapped six years earlier and held captive by the disturbed Kyle, Amy returns home without any explanation. Her family reacts in many different ways, but is glad to have her home. Her brother has felt guilty, her parents have divorced, and her aunt really wants to know what happened to Amy's cousin Dee. Amy is unable to tell the police what happened, but as the story unfolds we learn that Dee was the one raped and impregnated by Kyle, and Amy was the one who raised the two babies, Lola and Barbie. As Amy returns to her regular life, with the help of a lot of therapy, we learn more and more about what she went through, and about what happened to Dee. The title refers to the fact that Kyle called Amy "Chelsea" and Stacie "Dee".
Strengths: My students crave books about kidnapping and murder, so they would definitely like this part of the book. The tone is oddly disjointed, which addresses Amy's state of mind, and the details of her life are revealed in a nonlinear way.
Weaknesses: Definitely a young adult book. In addition to the talk about rape and the description of pregnancies, there is some teen drinking.
What I really think: I can think of several girls who have gone on to high school who would like to read this book, but it's too much information for middle school.