From My Middle School Bookshelf


Regan Kraus - Knight Writer

Student Journalist - Lourdes Academy

Cinderella: a classic story involving a mistreated young girl who goes to the ball and falls in love with a handsome prince.

Cinder: an outcast cyborg caught in the midst of a city with a disease that originated from the moon.

The book Cinder by Marissa Meyers provides an interesting twist to the well-known story of Cinderella. Unlike Cinderella, the main character Lihn Cinder is independent and has no interest in attending the upcoming ball. She has too many things to worry about to even consider attending a ball to commemorate the prince’s coronation.

Similar to the story of Cinderella, Cinder has a cruel stepmother and two stepsisters. Together, they live in New Being, a futuristic city filled with flying cars and androids. Cinder works as a mechanic, making her the kind of girl who is not afraid to get dirty. This makes Cinder a more updated representation of a modern-day woman, whereas Cinderella is a very traditional “damsel in distress.”

Continuing, one unique trait of Cinder is that she is a cyborg. As a child, Cinder was in a horrific accident that killed both of her parents and that took Cinder’s leg and arm. She was thus given robotic prosthetics. I like this addition to the story because it challenges modern-day issues such as discrimination. Cinder’s neighbors and even her family, reject her because she is a cyborg, but some characters, such as her stepsister Peony, love her even though she is different.

It just so happens that Peony is my favorite character. Unlike the original Cinderella story, however, Peony is kind to her stepsister. Peony, unlike her sister Pearl, loves Cinder, and she treats her with dignity and respect. I like Peony because she is slightly quiet and reserved, but she also is not afraid to be kind to Cinder in front of her wretched mother and sister. Peony also is a classic lovesick young girl which adds a charming and hopeful feel amidst the awful pandemic. Cinder may not have an interest in the prince, but Peony is hopelessly in love.

Coincidentally, my favorite part of this book is the futuristic disease that has infected millions of these people. With the coronavirus spreading throughout the world, it is both ironic and interesting to read about a fictional disease. This disease is known as letumosis, and it has a strange origin. In this book, people live on the moon and they are known as lunars. The lunars are under the control of their evil queen and, attempting to escape, they flee to earth. The lunars brought letumosis to earth, and it began killing millions of people.

Clearly, this book is classified as science fiction, so readers who enjoy extraordinary stories will enjoy this charming novel. Middle school and high school girls will enjoy this book, but, of course, boys may find an interest in it as well. Read Cinder to get a creative twist on the classic story of Cinderella.

Out of my Mind

By Regan Kraus - Knight Writer

Student Journalist - Lourdes Academy

Melody Brooks the protagonist from the book Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper feels like a fish out of water.

Melody is a fifth grade girl who also happens to have cerebral palsy and she hates how people look at her differently. Cerebral palsy is a disease that limits a person’s mobility. It causes ridged limbs, involuntary movement, and in serious cases, limits speech. Melody is not able to talk at all so she struggles to communicate with the people around her. She is just as smart and probably even smarter than most of the kids in her class, but because she cannot control her speech, her classmates assume she is mentally disabled.

Middle school students will enjoy Melody ’s spunky and determined personality. Throughout the novel, Melody repeatedly attempts to get things done herself, but if she is physically unable to, she learns how she can practice performing tasks. Her disease limits her mobility, but she figures out how to maneuver around it so she can become more independent.

Personally, my favorite part of this book is when Melody ’s mother gives birth to a new baby girl named Penny. At first, Melody is jealous of her sister because Penny can do things that Melody cannot, but she gradually learns to love herself for who she is. This part really displays Melody ’s maturing feelings and shows that even an eleven year old girl can learn to love herself and all of her flaws.

Throughout this book, Melody struggles to fit in with everyone around her, but she slowly starts to understand that everyone is different. She also learns how she can use her set of skills to help other people and she begins to value her strengths instead of focusing on her weaknesses.

Out of my Mind brings forward important lessons such as the idea that everyone should treat people equally.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

By Regan Kraus - Knight Writer

Lourdes Academy - Student Journalist

Deceit is something many people try to avoid, but the main characters in the book We Were Liars by E. Lockhart are not strangers to fibs.

Cadence Sinclair appears to be a happy teenager with many blessings, but the progression of the story reveals dark hidden truths about her. This tale begins with Cadence, the oldest of all of her cousins, beginning yet another summer with her extended family at their private island. The Sinclairs are a very rich family, but they quickly realize that money cannot buy happiness.

Unfortunately, many members of the family have seen dark days, death, addiction, and divorce. The strange aspect of this is that none of the family members talk about their misfortunes. Cadence begins to wonder why her loved ones will not answer any of her questions, and why they seem to be hiding something.

An interesting aspect about this story is how confusing it starts out. In the beginning, there are many plot holes within the book, and the reader may not understand what is happening in the novel, but secrets are slowly revealed. The fog is thick in the beginning, but it slowly clears as the story unfolds, and the reader begins to see the truth that the family is hiding.

Cadence’s curiosity grows as her family keeps her hidden in the dark. Even when she questions her close cousins and her crush, who visit the island every year, they do not tell her any answers.

With a unique plot and a shocking ending, We Were Liars is guaranteed to keep the reader turning pages.

Let it Snow by John Green

By Regan Kraus - Knight Writer

Student Journalist - Lourdes Academy

Winter is the perfect time to curl up with a good book. As Christmas approaches, students should pick up the book Let it Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson.

John Green is the popular author of many well-known novels such as Paper Towns and The Fault in our Stars. Let it Snow showcases some of the same language and writing techniques that Green uses in his other books, but if this style is not one’s favorite, there are other writing styles throughout the book. Green, Myracle, and Johnson each have distinct characters and voices, which provide separate points of view.

Over the upcoming break, Let it Snow is a great novel to read to get into the Christmas spirit. The story is about different groups of high school students and how they come together. In the midwest, a massive snowstorm hits the teenager’s town, and each group gets stuck in various areas throughout the community.

During the holiday season, most people enjoy relaxing by a Christmas tree or a fire as snow floats down from the sky. Let it Snow is perfect for this setting as it provides cozy imagery. The word choice within the book is mesmerizing, and it inspires readers to expand their vocabulary. Even if readers are not fans of analyzing word choice, they will appreciate how the description makes them feel warm and fuzzy inside.

The humor is evident as the teens try to find a way out of the snow. Readers will enjoy the charming and witty characters in the book. The holiday spirit and cute romance is a cheery addition to the book, and a positive way to spend time inside on a chilly day.

Not only does this book give the readers wholesome feelings, but it will also encourage them to think deeper about the bigger meaning of Christmas. Hopefully after reading this book, teens will not only be entertained but be motivated to open their hearts to others.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Navin

By Regan Kraus - Knight writer

Student Journalist - Lourdes Academy

Attention parents of bookworms! If you are searching for a new book for your child to read, consider picking up All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. This novel is the perfect read for the upcoming holiday season with its witty and lovable characters.

The story begins on a rather sad note when Violet meets Finch on the roof of their school. They both are contemplating suicide, but Finch manages to convince Violet to come down from the roof. She agrees as long as he comes down as well. This dramatic and shocking introduction is a great way to capture the teen reader’s attention, and it is easy to stay interested in the intriguing plot.

Upon reading this book, one will get to experience Violet Markey’s personal growth as she builds a relationship with Finch. In the beginning, the pair does not appear to have anything in common, but, as the plot progresses, the reader is able to see how their differences work well for both of them. Violet and Finch both have internal and external struggles, and, through their relationship, they manage to bring out the best in each other.

By getting closer to Violet, Finch, the edgy and adventurous boy, learns how to open up. He begins to realize how important relationships are through her, and he starts to change his mindset.

On the opposite end, Violet starts to recognize that her past does not define who she is, and that it is okay to be different. Her new, unlikely friendship with Finch truly changes both her personality and her outlook on life. She begins looking toward the future and changes her mindset into a much more positive one.

All in all, this novel will have your teen laughing, crying, and everything in between. If the characters and storyline are not enough to entice the reader, then the humor will. If your teen is mature and willing to learn more about serious topics like mental health while still looking for a fun read, this is the novel for your middle schooler.