Ghetto Cowboy, by G Neri

It’s tough to find middle-school level fiction about black boys that are contemporary, that aren’t about basketball, and that aren’t centered around some kind of problem affecting “black urban youth today.” This story, on the other hand, is about a young boy who’s been getting into some trouble in Detroit, so his mom takes him to live with his father in Philly, whom he’s never met. His dad is involved with a community-run stable that rescues injured racehorses and has riding lessons, etc. for neighborhood kids. When the city wants to tear down the stables and build expensive condos, the residents band together to take action. It’s a really excellent novel about community, family, and growing up, and while it is explicitly about a black experience (and is written in AAVE) it isn’t a “problem” novel or hand-wringing in concern.