Perhaps a few books manage to capture tweendom's chaos, but too few catch its poetry.
Hilton offers readers the indelible character of Mimi, a half-Japanese, half-black seventh-grader who travels with her mom, Emiko, from their old home in Berkeley, California, to Vermont, where her dad, James, works as a college professor. She’s the new kid at her school during the second half of the 1969 school year—around the time the U.S. starts withdrawing troops from Vietnam and lands on the moon. As Mimi hitches her career dreams to the lunar landing, microaggressions—those daily intentional and unintentional slights, snubs, and insults aimed at people solely because they belong to a marginalized group like Mimi and her interracial family—drag her back to Earth. Spare verse viscerally evokes the shattering impacts these everyday forms of bigotry from family, teachers, neighbors, townspeople, and schoolmates (“I’m trying hard to smile… / and pretend I don’t see… / that kids are making squint-eyes at me”) cause even as Mimi makes fast pals with Stacey, the Southern white girl with “that accent / as fragrant as lilacs,” and a slower, deeper bond with Timothy, the white boy living next door.
In her acknowledgments, the author states that Mimi is “for anyone who has big dreams but is short on courage.” By the book’s end, readers will be moved by the empathetic lyricism of Mimi’s maturing voice. (glossary, pronunciation guide) (Verse/historical fiction. 8-12)