Book Corner: School Year Brings New Season of Café Book

Each school year, middle school librarians from our area partner with librarians from Central Rappahannock Regional Library to facilitate Café Book, a program where 7th and 8th graders read and then discuss books while they gather for lunch during the school day. This year’s Café Book list has 16 titles for students to choose from, with everything from mysteries to dystopias to real-life stories. I’ve included a sampling below, and the complete list of books for Café Book 2021-2022 can be found at

Dustborn by Erin Bowman
In a dystopian world where water is increasingly scarce, Delta struggles to stay alive. When her village is attacked while she is away, she fears that the real target of the attack was her and the brand on her back showing the way to the Verdant, a mythical oasis. 

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Avery Grambs is shocked when she finds out Tobias Hawthorne, a Texas billionaire she has never heard of, has left almost all of his estate to her. Hawthorne’s grandsons believe it is part of a puzzle meant for them to solve. Avery gets swept up in the mystery, hoping the answers they find will help explain why this perfect stranger left her his fortune. 

The King of Jam Sandwiches by Eric Walters
Thirteen-year-old Robbie’s father is single-parenting and struggling with mental illness, leaving Robbie alone for days at a time. Robbie hides this part of his life because, as tough as it is, he is terrified of being taken away from his dad. When Robbie makes a new friend at school and the truth starts to come out, he doesn’t know what that means for his future.

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
Tiến and his mother deepen their bond when he reads fairy tales aloud to help her learn English, even as they struggle to understand the sadness and worry they each carry.

Millionaires for the Month by Stacy McAnulty
When two seventh graders find a wallet and take $20 from it before turning it in, the owner of the wallet gives them a challenge: spend $5 million in a month, and she will give each of them $10 million. The challenge creates problems the boys don’t anticipate and threatens to upend their lives.

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi
When Parvin’s first boyfriend breaks up with her because she is “too much,” Parvin sets out to change everything about herself to get a date for homecoming and make her first boyfriend jealous. Along the way, Parvin realizes she doesn’t need to fit into someone else’s mold.

Pity Party by Kathleen Lane
A group of middle schoolers experience the highs and lows (mostly lows) of middle school life in sometimes fantastical and often ironic stories that are knit together through their shared experience of adolescence.

Starfish by Lisa Fipps
Bullied by classmates and family members because of her weight, Ellie struggles to claim her self-worth. Good friends, her father, and a therapist help Ellie make breakthroughs in developing the confidence to stand up to the bullies.

Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick
Thirteen-year-old Frankie is not neurotypical and struggles with sensory processing, maintaining focus, and communicating with others. When her former best friend goes missing, Frankie is determined to find her, even though she has mixed emotions about their relationship.

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson
Omar looks out for his younger brother Hassan in a refugee camp in Kenya, after having fled war-torn Somalia on foot. Life in the refugee camp is difficult, and Omar does what he can to get himself and his brother out. 

Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski
When Rae Carter moves to Whispering Pines, she can’t help but notice the oddities of the town: children disappearing, found children who come back with their eyes missing, and the exorcist who lives across the street. When her new best friend disappears, Rae dives deep into this creepy town’s secrets.

You Should See Me in A Crown by Leah Johnson
Liz Lighty ‘s plan for high school is to fly under the radar and work hard to earn a scholarship to go to the same college as her deceased mother. When her music scholarship falls through, her brother comes up with a terrible plan: enter the highly competitive running for prom queen and win the $10,000 scholarship that goes with the title.

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