A family struggles to get back on track after a bereavement.
“Monday—149 days since Mammy died,” heads chapter one, conveying the shape of Mimi’s world. Mimi walks through her days leaning on routine: “Monday is Granny’s day,” when she visits Granny and Grandad after school; Tuesday it’s one aunt, Wednesday another. Older siblings Sally and Conor meet her there, and they converge back at home for the evening, where Dad nightly burns a pizza that Mimi tosses to the dog. Grieving dysfunctionally, Dad barely registers his kids besides scorching supper for them. Mimi does no homework; tooth-brushing is ignored. Newman’s simple, uncluttered narration skillfully reports action more than emotion, even when the action is crying. Buoying the vibe is ongoing humor—would a goth kid enjoy burnt food because it’s black? Why is the pregnant teacher having “contraptions” in class? Mimi seeks connection to Sally via reading Sally’s hidden diary, which Sally accusingly addresses to a certain younger-sister spy. Missing Mammy (and Dad, although he’s right there), Mimi confronts a school bully and processes her own wish “that I hadn’t gotten slanty eyes.” However, readers are secure that this extended Irish family considers (adopted, Chinese) Mimi to be 100% their own beloved girl.
Unassuming prose does the trick for this sad and funny tale with a warm ending. (Fiction. 8-10)