25 of the best new middle grade novels

Middle grade novels – books aimed at late elementary and middle school readers – are great because they are flexible. They are not required to fit into predetermined boxes such as “dystopian fiction” or “paranormal romance.” These are the books that first shape us as readers, teach us compassion, and transform our lives. I still remember what classics like "A Wrinkle in Time," "Bridge to Terabithia," "The Dark Is Rising," "Tuck Everlasting," and "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" meant to me the first time I read them.

Here's a list of 25 exciting new 2014 titles. This list is eclectic and hopefully includes something that appeals to just about everyone. I read over 100 new and upcoming novels while preparing this list, and these are the very best.

1. 'The Art of Secrets,' by James Klise

"The Art of Secrets" is part thoughtful novel and part edge-of-your-seat mystery. This story about a family of Pakistani immigrants whose apartment is destroyed by arson culminates in a shocking twist of an ending that will engross readers until the very last page. There’s no magic or science fiction involved – just smart and often humorous storytelling that raises tough questions about racism, prejudice, and belonging. Readers will arrive at differing conclusions about what the ending means and what it might suggest about the nature of altruism and the meaning of truth. (Ages 12 and up)

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