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.
In free verse, Mimi Yoshiko Oliver narrates her seventh grade year at a new school in 1969 Vermont. Mimi's ethnicity puzzles people: on the first day of school, a classmate asks, "What are you?" a question Mimi often hears: "I am/ half my Japanese mother,/ half my Black father,/ and all me." Her father advises, " be kind, be respectful, and persist.'/ Like raindrops on granite,' I say,/ because we know that's how I persist / drip, drip, drip/ until the granite cracks." Mimi makes friends, excels academically, and dreams of being an astronaut; however, "I feel like I have to be/ twice as smart and funny at school/ and twice as nice and forgiving in my neighborhood." Throughout the year, Mimi confronts barriers; when told that girls take home economics and boys take shop, she politely and repeatedly protests this rule, eventually engaging in civil disobedience. When the school suspends her, her classmates organize a sit-in. Through the perspective of this clear-eyed, courageous heroine, Hilton (Found Things) powerfully recreates a time of momentous transition in American history. Ages 8 12.