Book Corner: Read Up on 2022–23 Café Book Middle School Selections

This school year, 17 area middle schools will participate in Café Book, a long-standing partnership between school and public librarians. Middle school librarians and librarians from Central Rappahannock Regional Library worked together to select 14 titles for the 2022-2023 Café Book year, ranging from real-life stories to mysteries to science fiction and fantasy. 

Defy the Night, opens a new window by Brigid Kemmerer
As a mysterious illness sweeps through the kingdom of Kandala, Tessa and Wes steal the cure from the rich and give it to the poor. When things go wrong, Tessa learns a secret that will turn her life upside down.

Ellen Outside the Lines, opens a new window by A.J. Sass
Ellen is all ready for a school trip to Barcelona, but, when the plans for the trip change, it is a hard transition for Ellen since they have autism. Even though there are some tough times, Ellen comes to understand that sometimes it’s ok when life doesn’t go according to plan.

A Forgery of Roses, opens a new window by Jessica S. Olson
Struggling to take care of her sister alone, Myra tries to make ends meet as a painter’s apprentice while keeping her forbidden talent hidden: Myra can use her painting to heal others. When a powerful and rich woman seeks out Myra to help her son, Myra has no choice but to help, wrenching her into a web of intrigue and mystery. 

Gallant, opens a new window by V.E. Schwab
Orphaned, mute, and able to see the dead, Olivia is surprised and wary when she receives a letter from an unknown uncle inviting her to return to Gallant, the family home. She arrives to find the uncle is dead, and her only remaining relative, a cousin, doesn’t want her there. But Olivia stays, determined to find out about her parents and the spooky home she is tied to.

The Girls Are Never Gone, opens a new window by Sarah Glenn Marsh
Dare Chase is headed to a historic mansion in Virginia, where she is ready to spend the summer helping restore the property AND secretly recording her paranormal investigation podcast. Turns out, there are plenty of ghost-related mysteries to investigate.

Gold Spun, opens a new window by Brandie June
In this fast-paced retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, small-time con artist Nor believes she and her destitute family have gotten the help they need when a faerie gives her a special token. But when the King finds her cheating villagers by telling them she can turn straw into gold, he locks her in a tower to prove it. 

The Golden Hour, opens a new window by Niki Smith
After witnessing an attack on a teacher, Manuel struggles to process his trauma. With the help of some new friends and a new passion for photography, he begins to break out of his shell and move forward.

I Must Betray You, opens a new window by Ruta Sepetys
Staying alive in 1989 Romania is a day-to-day struggle. The iron-fisted dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu has led to shortages of even the most basic necessities, and there are spies everywhere willing to sell out their friends and family for any small reward. When Cristian is given the opportunity to earn medicine for his grandfather by spying on a friend, he must figure out a way to help his grandfather without betraying his own morals.

I'll Be the One, opens a new window by Lyla Lee
Sky Shin is proud of her dancing and singing skills and tired of being told she is too fat. She auditions for a K-pop reality show, determined to show her critical mother and the world that you don’t have to fit a certain mold to be talented and shine (and date the cutest guy on the show!).

The Last Cuentista, opens a new window by Donna Barba Higuera
When Petra is awakened from stasis while traveling to another planet, her family is dead, and the ship is under the control of a sinister group called The Collective, which has wiped the memories of all the passengers. Petra is the only one who remembers Earth or any part of the past. 

The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne, opens a new window by Jonathan Stroud
The last thing fiercely independent outlaw Scarlett McCain wants is a needy sidekick, but she can’t say no when Albert Browne is so clearly helpless. As they travel together, Scarlett can see that Albert is hiding something. Something dangerous.

Playing the Cards You're Dealt, opens a new window by Varian Johnson
In Anthony’s family, spades is not just a game; it is family honor. But as Ant prepares for a big tournament, he finds himself balancing changes with his friends, family, and how he sees the world around him.

Squire, opens a new window by Nadia Shammas and Sarah Alfageeh
In this action-packed graphic novel, 14-year-old Aiza finally gets permission to join the squire training program and pursue her dream of becoming a knight. As she progresses in her training, a war is heating up, revealing political machinations that lead Aiza to think differently about her dream. 

Violets Are Blue, opens a new window by Barbara Dee
Wren’s life is turned upside down when her parents divorce, and she and her mom move to a new town. As things at school start to get better, things with her mom get worse. She is often sick, doesn’t seem to be at work when she should, and Wren does not understand what is happening.

Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.