This is one of the most popular books in our school's library...and at my school we READ. Sharon Flake's amazing novel The Skin I'm In is the first book I had to reorder because it had been shredded and loved to bits by our students.
Maleeka Madison is such a relatable character, someone whose skin our girls can get in. She looks different, doesn't have much money, experiences the bullying of her frenemy Char, and has to decide who she is going to be. Ms. Flake doesn't sugarcoat Maleeka's experiences; the reader can see the consequences of Maleeka's actions. I was not surprised to learn that the author was a teacher, her character Ms. Saunders is the educator that we all wish we could be. She is wealthy (ha), confident, and a giver of knowledge and tough love. I loved watching Maleeka and Ms. Saunders' relationship grow and be challenged throughout the novel.
If you know (or are) a reluctant middle school reader, this is one of the first books I would recommend to get on the path to devouring books.