Category Archives: Middle School

Middle School – ages 12-14

Speechless by Hannah Harrington

Harlequin Teen, 2012.

Chelsea Knot is one of the popular girls, based almost solely on the basis of her friendship with queen bee, Kristen, who manipulates her, and everyone around her to get what she wants. Most of their time together is spent putting other people down, shopping, and gossiping about boys.

Chelsea is also known for her inability to keep a secret, unless she can blackmail someone for something better than the thrill of spilling the latest gossip. When she finds out that Tessa is sneaking around with her best friend, Megan’s boyfriend, and has pictures to prove it, Kristen convinces her not to share the photos if Tessa will get them two fake IDs.

So far, there is nothing likeable about Chelsea – and it’s all about to go downhill at a New Year’s party at Kristen’s. Drunk, and in desperate need of a bathroom, Chelsea stumbles into a bedroom where she discovers two boys making love. With the best secret of the year in her grasp, Chelsea blurts out the details to everyone within hearing range. Kristen, her boyfriend Warren, and others react in horror, disgust and anger, and Warren and his sidekick Joey follow the two boys out the door, saying they’re just going to teach them a lesson.

When she finds out from Kristen, the next morning, that Noah, one of the two gay teens, is in the hospital, Chelsea accedes to Kristen’s threat not to say anything to anyone.

Surprisingly, her conscience gets the better of her, and she confesses everything to her parents, and makes a statement to the police.

She then takes a vow of silence.

Returning to school, Chelsea finds that all of her friends have turned against her, and she is treated to verbal and physical abuse and harassment that the school administration manages to remain ignorant of. Given detention every day by her English teacher for not participating in class, Chelsea makes a new friend, who draws her into a new circle of people who are respectful of her silence.

These new relationships are not uncomplicated – they all know what she did, and one of the teens in this group is Noah’s boyfriend, who is furious and resents her presence in his life.

What Chelsea learns about herself through her silence, and through her new friendships is what makes this book worth reading, and not simply another story of a gay-bashing.



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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2010s, Gay, High School, Middle School

“The Secret of Life According to Aunt Gladys” by Bruce Coville

In Dirty Laundry: Stories About Family Secrets, edited by Lisa Rowe Faustino.  New York: Vikilaunng, 1998.   

Transgender – Middle School/High School

Randy discovers he has an uncle whom the family doesn’t talk about. He discovers why when George arrives for an unexpected visit, planning to stay while he transitions to Gladys.  Randy’s parents struggle to accept Gladys, but Randy is open-minded about his aunt-to-be.

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 1990s, Middle School, Soldier Girls and Dancing Boys

“Dragons in Manhattan” by Francesca Lia Block

aIn Girl Goddess, #9, HarperCollins, 1996.

Lesbian/Transgender – Elementary/Middle School

Tuck lives with her lesbian mothers in New York, but when she wants to know who her father is, her cross-country journey of discovery brings a very surprising answer.

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Filed under 1990s, Middle School, Soldier Girls and Dancing Boys

Marco Impossible by Hannah Moskowitz

marcoRoaring Brook, 2013.

Gay – Middle School/High School

Stephen and Marco have been best friends for years. Known for their pranks, and detective works, one of which uncovered the fact that Stephen’s father was having an affair, they are finishing middle school with one last blast: Marco wants Stephen to help him get them into the high school senior prom, where Marco’s crush, Benji, will be performing with his band. Benji is going away for the summer, and Marco will be going to private school in the fall – so this is Marco’s one chance to declare his feelings to Benji.

Of course everything becomes more complicated than planned, not the least of which is the fact that Marco is clearly being targeted by bullies, something which Marco wants to ignore, while Stephen feels responsible for protecting him. Stephen feels growing resentment at being taken for granted, and the friends erupt in anger at each other, even as they try to follow through with what seems to be turning into a series of less and less funny disasters.

A very good book about friendship.  Recommended

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Filed under **** Highly recommended, 2010s, Middle School