Full Cicada Moon, Reviewed by Shelley Tang, 11

Book Reviews  /   /  By Sarah Ainsworth
Stone Soup Magazine
September 2018

Mimi Yoshiko Oliver is not your typical protagonist. She is a half-black, half-Japanese girl who is unusually independent. She is also a stereotype-buster. When she moves to Vermont in 1969 as a middle schooler, the snowy state has few to no black people or Japanese people—only white. Mimi’s parents are not surprised that the neighbors ignore them, but Mimi doesn’t understand. When Mimi starts school, no one understands or accepts her. It seems that every time Mimi does something, all the others seem to have a certain thought about it, and soon Mimi feels like an alien, just not fitting into this brand new town.

Not only is Mimi not accepted because of her race, but also because of her interests. Mimi tells her teacher that she wants to be an astronaut. As soon as she says that, the whole class bursts out laughing thinking that she just told the funniest joke. This is the usual behavior when it was in the 1950s because at that time, women had to do housework, while the men earn money. The day drags along until she requests to take the Wood Shop, instead of boring, old, Home Ec, yet the teachers seems surprised that any girl would ever say that and refuses to let Mimi join the boys in Wood Shop. Months pass, until finally the Science Competition comes. When Mimi’s project is selected to go onto the next round of competition (Group A) and a classmate’s is put into the runner -up group, “Group B,” the classmate starts to bully her. When Mimi goes to the bathroom, that classmate steals one of the major components in her project, getting Mimi moved down to Group B, and the child is moved up. Mimi feels different, left out, day after day. Each day people stare at her and ignore her because of her skin, but her math teacher actually seems to understand her. Telling Mimi that she also dreamed of becoming an astronaut once but couldn’t. Finally, after being alone for several months, a girl named Stacy befriends Mimi. But as Stacy’s birthday party rolls around, Mimi isn’t invited. As it turns out, Stacy’s mother, didn’t want a “black girl” at the celebration. But in spite of all this, Mimi stays strong and refuses to back down, showing grit and determination.

Mimi’s journey, in the two years is incredible. She learns how to be proud of herself and never lose her dreams. From some of the student’s comments about her color and even teachers, Mimi come around and accomplished one of her many goals. From being able to something else changes to, her classmates respect her and now doesn’t tease her. In these several years, Mimi changes from being that little girl in the corner to a outgoing teenager, with a lot of friends. The theme of this book is grit and determination because without these characteristics, Mimi would never had been able to reach her goals and accomplishments.

An unusual aspect of this book is that it is all written in free verse.When reading this book, I noticed a important part of the story was following your dreams. This is because without Mimi’s strong desire to be an astronaut the story wouldn’t be as influential. She never let the critic’s voices get in her head, and kept on believing in her ideas even when no one else would even think of them. The fact that the author was able to show all these meanings and words through free verse is incredible.

Full Cicada Moon is a story that will last you your entire life. It teaches you about the 20th century with stories of a young girl. You will want to fight for Mimi, and help change those cruel students. It is an amazing journey with Mimi, from the first year in Vermont to high school. So go to your local library and read Full Cicada Moon!

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton. Penguin Random House, 2015. Buy the book here and support Children’s Art Foundation-Stone Soup in the process!

Have you read this book? Or do you plan on reading it? If so, comment below!

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