The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Faye
Set just after WWI and the Influenza outbreak, the Turner family turns to vaudeville as their only source of income. Told from the perspectives of the four sisters who each go through their own loves and hardships, this is a vivid recounting of their stage experiences. Excellently researched and a moving story. Some pretty explicit sexual scenes, so definitely YA. Covers racism and women's sufferage movement. I really liked this one.

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
After her best (and only) friend dies, Zu just knows that she must have been stung by a deadly jellyfish. She refuses to speak anymore to anyone because small talk is meaningless. This is an unusual look at loss for a "weird" student and how she deals with grief. Of course it's sad. I can't imagine it as a read aloud. But as an individual read--wow. Zu makes a crazy plan to go to Australia. Excellent. 4+

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
Terrible choice to read right after Jellyfish. Mark is dying of cancer and decides to run away to finish something he promised his grandfather. He takes his perfect little dog and they head for Mt Ranier. This is a super tear-jerker. Excellent 4th+

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Raymie, Louisiana, and Beverly are all taking baton twirling lessons but for very different reasons although they each want to win Little Miss Central Florida Tire. All three have problems that they may be able to help each other with. Raymie's father has just left with a dental hygienist. How can she get him to come back? This is classic DiCamillo with terrific language and twists in the plot. The descriptions of Raymie's soul expanding and shrinking are stunning. 3rd+ A death during the story makes it difficult as a read aloud.

Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt
Tate has to pick a penpal and decides on Hank Williams. Her story unfolds in 1948 in Rippling Creek, Louisiana. She leads us to believe nothing every happens in Rippling Creek, but we find out otherwise. This is a great story. It's also heart breaking as more is revealed. This would also be a difficult readaloud. 4th+
Parched by Melanie Crowder
Told by Sarel, who has witnessed her parent's murder, Nanda, their dog, and Musa, who was kidnapped by a gang who needs water more than anything. Simply and sparsely written this is so emotionally stressful. It's all about finding water. And death. I'm thinking of making it YA due to the violence.

Booked by Kwame Alexander
Similar to The Crossover, written in verse. The story is about Nick Hall, soccer champs, and the highs and lows of 8th grade. Excellent 4th up.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold
YA story similar to Walk Two Moons by Creech. Mim (Mary Iris Malone) knows her world has disintegrated. The big question is whether she is also disintegrating. Mim runs away to find her mother and makes new friends and finds a few weirdos. Some language and a creepy perv. But not so explicit to be too much for middle school. Moving story. YA.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
Roz wakes up on an island with no idea who she is or what her purpose is. Over this multichapter book, Roz learns to be wild. This is surprisingly thoughtful while being very simple. I loved this by the end. Really unique.

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel