Archive for Coming of Age

Pink & Green is the New Black

Written by Lisa Greenwald

13-year-old Lucy Desberg is back in the third book of the Pink & Green series, and, on the outside, things couldn’t be better. Her initiative to have the school cafeteria go green is a success, her family’s pharmacy and spa are thriving, and she has a boyfriend in high school. What she’s not telling everyone, however, is that Yamir hasn’t called or texted her in weeks, and she has no idea why. To take her mind off him, she and her best friend, Sunny (Yamir’s sister), agree to help plan the upcoming school dance, the Eighth-Grade Masquerade, even though mean-girl Erica Crane is in charge. At least Erica has been acting like a normal human being lately, but Lucy wonders if that will last.

Like everything else she does, Lucy puts her heart and soul into making the masquerade perfect. She offers to do everyone’s makeup at the spa and works hard to make sure all her friends have dates. But as hard as she tries to ignore the Yamir problem, the more frustrated she becomes. To make matters more complicated, a cute boy named Travis, who’s new to the school, shows interest in her. Lucy puts on a happy face and pretends like she can handle it all, but it doesn’t take long until the cracks in her armor begin to show.

In this coming-of-age novel, Greenwald creates a realistic depiction of middle school girl drama, where saving face and fitting in sometimes makes it challenging to do the right thing. Sixth graders will identify with winsome Lucy and her friends as they navigate the turbulent waters of balancing friends, crushes, family and school.

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  • Pink & GreenTitle: Pink & Green is the New Black
  • Author: Lisa Greenwald
  • Publisher: Amulet Books / Abrams
  • Reviewer: Lauren Abbey Greenberg
  • Format: Paperback, 272 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-4197-1225-8
  • Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fiction
  • Release Date: October 2014

Better Nate than Ever

Written by Tim Federle

Lovable, adorable thirteen-year-old Nate sets off for his first Broadway audition, taking the reader along on a great and hilarious adventure. He and his best friend, Libby, think they’ve thoroughly prepared him for the trip and for the audition, but few things go the way they expected. Strangely enough, their preparations really do help, though. For example, they write a speech for the bus ticket agent. He uses it as a well-received monologue in his audition. His special talent turns out to be bottle walking, as they rehearsed in Fiddler on the Roof. Nate’s daydreaming and obsession with Applebee’s add to the fun. Throughout the story, it’s unclear whether Nate is moving toward something, such as a career as a singer/actor, or away from something, such as all the bullying he endures due to his small stature and love of musical theater. What is clear is that Nate finds himself somewhere along the way. And he’s a better Nate for it.

Recommended for sixth grade or mature fifth graders, mainly due to content. Nate is questioning his sexuality and is constantly reminded that he appears to be a little different from the norm. He encounters several examples of homosexuality and remarks on each. Also, he does take a bus into New York by himself and even remarks on the dangers of such a trip. His mother is a recovering alcoholic, and he learns other tragic items about his family.

Winner of several awards: a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year, and a Slate Favorite Book of the Year. The publisher’s website has a lot of content related to Nate: The author’s website,, is almost as fun as his books.

  • Better NateTitle: Better Nate than Ever
  • Author: Tim Federle
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 275 pages
  • Genre: Fiction, coming of age, humor
  • ISBN: 978-1-4424-4689-2


Carrying Mason

Written by Joyce Magnin

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Young people enjoy reading about people their own age facing and conquering difficulties.  Carrying Mason will be of interest to those at the sixth grade reading level. This story requires good comprehension at the sixth grade level, but is not a strenuous read for that age.

Luna is thirteen years old and lives with her parents, three sisters, and a brother in a small town. It’s a full house, but, for the most part, a happy one. Until, that is, Luna’s best friend Mason dies when hit by a car while riding his bicycle. Luna and Mason had a very special bond. It affects the whole town, but Luna more than anyone. Anyone except Mason’s mother, Ruby Day. Mason had taken such good care of his mother. She is somewhat developmentally delayed and, while some are cruel to her, many in the town look out for her. But she needs more than that. When Luna visits Ruby Day, she finds mildewed clothes in the washer and dirty dishes in the sink and realizes Ruby Day hasn’t bathed in too long. Luna decides it is up to her to take care of Ruby Day. She convinces her parents to let her move in with Ruby Day and promises she will keep up with her school work and will go to college when the time comes. She does remarkably well in her new role, but is faced with her greatest challenge when a relative shows up and insists she should take Ruby Day away. Luna is in for the fight of her life.


Young people will cheer for Luna and appreciate the difficulty of her situation. Most will imagine what it is like to take on such responsibility and will be interested in the idea of living away from their family. They will learn the kind of strength of character it takes for such a task and will also learn they have that kind of strength within themselves. There are a lot of discussion starters in this book. It is more of a girl’s book than a boy’s book, but many boys will probably like this one. The author’s page can be found at

  • Carying MasonTitle: Carrying Mason
  • Author: Joyce Magnin
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz, 2012
  • Reviewer: Rosi Hollinbeck
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-310-72682-1
  • Genre: Fiction, Coming of Age
  • Lexile Score: 810