Here for a reason: GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead

Stead, Rebecca. Goodbye Stranger. Read by Kimberly Farr, Meera Simhan, and Kirby Heyborne. Wendy Lamb Books, 2015. 289 pages/6 hours and 59 minutes. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-0-375-99098-4; hardcover (library binding) $19.99, ISBN 978-0-375-99098-4; PLB $13.06, ISBN 978-1-53791-774-0; TR $6.84, ISBN 978-0-307-98086-1

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Part of a series? No.

Book Summary:

Bridge survived a catastrophic accident when she was little, and she can’t get the following words out of her head after a nurse remarks upon her survival, “You must be here for a reason.” What reason could that be? That’s a tough enough question without taking into account that this year Bridge and her best friends Tab and Em are starting seventh grade. While they’ve sworn on a Twinkie that they’ll never fight, will seventh grade and all of its trappings test the bonds of their friendship?

Reviewer’s Notes:

I really enjoyed this book. Bridge sounds like a seventh grader — she wants to be older, but she also misses the simpler days before all of the politics and intricacies of being twelve. Her friends are distinct characters, and the changes in point of view from Bridge’s present-day, Sherm’s letters to Nono Gio, and an unnamed character on Valentine’s Day keep the story moving nicely.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred, 05/15/15
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred, 09/01/15
Horn Book Guide starred, 04/01/16
Horn Book Magazine starred, 07/01/15
Kirkus Reviews starred, 06/01/15
Publishers Weekly starred, 05/11/15
School Library Journal starred, 05/01/15
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) starred, 08/01/15


Friendship on the Field: Braced by Alyson Gerber

Gerber, Alyson. Braced. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2017. 281 pages. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN 978-0-545-90214-4

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Part of a series? No

Plot Summary:

At the end of her vacation before seventh grade, Rachel finds out that her scoliosis has progressed to the point where she must wear a brace. She is fitted for her brace and prescribed a 23-hour-a-day routine. Rachel has big plans for seventh grade — making starter offense on the soccer team, getting to know a guy from class better, and generally being awesome. A brace for her scoliosis has no place in her plans, but her mom refuses to let Rachel spend extra time out of her brace. Can Rachel still rock it on the soccer field in her brace? Will her teammates support her, or are they just laughing at her?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This is a great book. The author draws on her own experience of having to wear a brace as a teen, and Rachel’s voice comes through super clearly and realistically.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred02/01/16

Kirkus Reviews starred12/15/16



Booked by Kwame Alexander

Alexander, Kwame. Booked. Puffin Books, 2016. 336 pages. Hardcover $14.49, ISBN 978-0-544-57098-6; PLB $18.51, ISBN 978-1-51817-158-1


TL;DR: Do I Recommend This? YES


Genre: Novel in Verse


Part of a series? No, but very similar to another Alexander novel, The Crossover.


Plot Summary:

Nick has a lot on his plate — he’s a superstar soccer player in his club, he wants desperately to ask out April from his etiquette class (which will be difficult, since all he has managed is a strangled “hello”), and he is being forced to read and memorize his father’s dictionary of obscure words. Life gets more exciting as his soccer team receives an invitation to play in a major tournament in Dallas … as does his best friend, co-captain of his rival team. Then his parents announce they are separating. Mr. Mac the librarian tries to recruit Nick for the book club, and Nick keeps getting into trouble for zoning off in English class. When a medical emergency forces Nick to stay home from the tournament, life as he knows it is over. Or is it?


Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This is a marvelous novel in verse about soccer, middle school life, and reading.

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

The action flies — the poems capture Nick’s feelings, thoughts, and actions on the soccer field. It’s a great read for anyone — bookworms, soccer fans, and reluctant readers. This could be a fun book club book or poetry unit read. (Idea from myself)


Grade Level: 6 and up


Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred 2/1/16

Horn Book Guide starred 10/1/16

Horn Book Magazine starred 3/1/16

Kirkus Reviews starred 1/15/16

Publishers Weekly Annex starred 3/7/16

Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) starred 4/1/16


Review referenced:

Kitsap (WA) Regional Library YA Book Group. (2016, Apr. 12). Teens review the latest from Kwame Alexander, Deb Caletti, and more (blog post). School Library Journal. Retrieved from