Young Mindy takes an entrepreneurial approach to a new school and a new life.
Moving from California to Florida is tough. On top of that, Korean American Mindy and her father are still grieving the recent loss of her mom from a long illness. The first day at her new school is discouraging, as she is teased for her lunch of kimchi, seaweed, eggs, and rice. The next day a white classmate named Sally tries the seaweed and effectively flips public opinion, making Mindy’s lunch very popular. Encouraged by Sally’s enthusiasm, Mindy starts trading her seaweed, then opts to sell it to raise money for a puppy (a long-held dream of hers) that she hopes will alleviate her father’s sadness. The evenly paced plot thickens when a disgruntled classmate, a white boy named Brandon, reports Mindy’s forbidden business to a teacher, causing Sally, Mindy, and Brandon to go to the principal’s office. Just on the verge of settling in, Mindy now must untangle this mess. Lee ambitiously takes on a number of issues with a new school, microaggressions, friendships, and grief, and she artfully manages to balance it all. Mindy’s accessible, genuine-sounding voice is sincere without diminishing the gravity of heavy issues. Lee also knows when to insert scenes of family love that prevent Mindy’s dad from being defined solely by his grief. Ho contributes friendly-looking black-and-white illustrations every few pages.
A lovingly authentic debut that shines. (Fiction. 6-9)