The Library of a Middle Schooler

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Meredith C. Lee, Reporter

Middle school feels like an eternity ago. Fairhope Middle School had one of the best school libraries I have seen, and it was a complete adventure to explore the weird depths of the halls and halls of books.

The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins will go down in history as one of the most successful YA fiction stories. The book led the entire YA takeover. Books like The Maze Runner, Divergent, and so many more followed in its footsteps. With the first book released in 2014, the trilogy has collectively sold more than 65 million copies. Recently, a prequel was released, The Ballad of Songbird and Serpents, about the story’s core antagonist President Snow. The book follows Katniss Everdeen, a citizen of the 12th district of Panem. Panem is the futuristic version of the United States after the rest of the world has fallen into ruin. As punishment for a past rebellion, the capital of Panem forces each of the 12 districts to have 2 citizens selected, 1 boy and 1 girl, to fight in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a televised event where each contestant must fight to the death in an arena where the last survivor will be promised great riches. The book is recommended for grades 5th-8th, however many parents have expressed concern for the book’s graphic violence, dark morality themes, and 16+ content.

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga is a 2019 book that follows a Syrian refugee family. The main character, Jude, and her family live on the Syrian coastline. Her brother, Issa, desires to join the protest unfolding in Arab Spring. The parents are in favor of staying out of it, but with news of a new baby and nearby towns turning into battlegrounds, Jude and her mother travel to join her uncle, a medical doctor, and his family in the American Midwest. Only after she becomes comfortable with co-living in Syria and the U.S. does a horrible incident cause her to struggle with her religious and national identities The book was rated 4/5 stars on GoodReads and won the 2020 Newbery Honor Award.

Smile by Raina Telemeier is a 2010 autobiographical graphic novel that stars the author, Raina, as a middle school student. The slice of life book follows Raina’s journey through broken friendships, first romantic relationships, and braces. The book also has an autobiographical sequel, Sisters, about Raina’s family going on a long road trip together as well as a sister book, Drama. The book has sold more than 1.5 million copies and won the 2011 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens.