Inside Out and Back Again meets One Crazy Summer and Brown Girl Dreaming in this novel-in-verse about fitting in and standing up for what’s right It's 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi's appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers and neighbors balk at her mixed-race family and her refusals to conform, Mimi’s dreams of becoming an astronaut never fade—no matter how many times she’s told no. This historical middle-grade novel is told in poems from Mimi's perspective over the course of one year in her new town, and shows readers that positive change can start with just one person speaking up.
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FULL CICADA MOON had lovely poetic writing in a style that is very fitting to the protagonist and her worldview. Mimi is a force to be reckoned with, but she has a light touch and knows how to get along well with people. She also learns a lot over the course of the story, and you can feel her changes in the writing style throughout the book. Mimi also makes some fantastic friends, and they have very strong personalities of their own. The depth of the wide variety of characters, classmates, friends, neighbors, antagonists, really lends the same depth to the whole story.
The prejudice that Mimi faces is so important. She is frequently asked "what" she is, because people are confused by her mixed heritage. Not only is she asked by her classmates, but by adults as well. Being able to see how these kinds of questions and interactions affect Mimi on the inside is really amazing. The historical context of the novel is also really interesting. Mimi is living on the cusp of some very important changes in our country, and the author weaves those elements in to the story effortlessly.
The Verdict: A story that would appeal to both middle grade and adult readers, I highly recommend FULL CICADA MOON to those looking for a strong story about change, hope, and personal strength.