STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr - Thirteen-year-old Deanna Lambert's father catches her having sex with a seventeen-year-old boy. The premise makes me cringe, but yet books like this remind young girls they are not alone when they make a bad decision. For a parent who says, "I don't want my child to read this," I would offer a counter argument: the book shows such negative consequences that I think any young girl contemplating sex would stop and think twice.
IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES by Lisa Schroeder - Isabel's mother decides to reinvent herself by opening a cupcake shop. The problem is she lacks gumption when things go wrong. Isabel helps her mother with the shop and learns a lot about herself in the process. This book would generate lots of discussion at a mother/daughter book club.
DORK DIARIES and DORK DIARIES 2 by Rachel Renee Russell - The tween heroine of these books reminds me of Beckie Bloomwood from Sophie Kinsella's CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC series. Both heroines get themselves into such outlandish situations that we as readers can't stop until we see how they are going to save the day. Another great feature of DORK DIARIES is its unique format, combining text and illustrations.
THE LEMONADE WAR by Jacqueline Davies - This book shows sibling rivalry at its finest. Evan and Jessie set up competing lemonade stands to see who can be the first to earn $100. Again the format is unique. The book contains mini posters with tips for running a successful small business.
If you've read any of these books, I'd love to hear your opinions. If you have suggestions of middle grade or young adult books that I might enjoy, I'd appreciate the recommendations.