25 of the best new middle grade novels

These titles are the very best of new middle grade novels released so far this year.

2. 'A Time to Dance,' by Padma Venkatraman

Another novel in verse, "A Time to Dance" follows teenager Veda’s work to become a traditional bharatanatyam dancer in India. She is devastated when a car crash leads to partial amputation and puts her dance career on hold. It’s a struggle to reestablish her skill, but Veda’s passion motivates her to keep working toward her goals.

The book is not perfect. The author in her preface – and then Veda as the narrator – use the term “differently abled” without acknowledging that this is a controversial term among people with disabilities. Despite this, "A Time to Dance" is a mostly honest look at disability that features a strong – but realistic and flawed – female protagonist making a place for herself in the world. This one is best for more advanced readers. (Ages 12 and up)

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