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Full Cicada Moon is a historical fiction that takes place during 1969 where Mimi and her family move to predominantly white Vermont from Berkeley during her 7th grade year. Mimi is half Japanese and half African American. Her dad just got a job at the college in town, so they move across the country.

Mimi is away from her cousins and friends and now is in a school where she is the only non-white student. At first most of the teachers and students say really rude and racist things to her and you can tell that they don’t know that it’s not appropriate. Mimi was taught by her mother’s Japanese background to always be nice and put other’s ahead of her and her father’s side taught her to stand up for her rights. Both parents believe that she can be an astronaut when she grows up.

This story follows Mimi’s painful but rewarding year of slowly “drip drip drip” changing the people in her community to accept her and to fight for the rights of all students. (A Black boy gets punched for dancing with a white girl who likes him. Mimi gets accused of shoplifting and is not allowed to take shop class instead of home ec… the list goes on.)

I think it’s great to have a book that doesn’t sugar coat things, but also isn’t too intense. It will invite conversation about what is fair and what isn’t and how to change that appropriately. This book not only addresses racism, but also gender roles. Mimi wants to be an astronaut and likes working with wood. As she puts it, she already knows how to cook and sew. Timothy wants to learn how to cook (he already taught Mimi how to use all the shop tools). The teachers and principals are angered by gender role reversal and try to punish the kids. There is a whole lot to talk about in this book.

And Mimi doesn’t just get over it and she doesn’t all out fight people. She slowly helps people change their minds and it’s a beautiful thing to watch as the characters develop. Mimi also doesn’t ignore it and let people walk all over her. She’s polite but also firm. And she writes in her school-project- turned-diary (this is what you’re reading) what she thinks and how she feels about people that treat her this way.

Full Cicada Moon is a novel in verse because her original class assignment was to keep a poetry notebook, which she continued into the next year. There is even a Japanese glossary in back for the words sprinkled in the text to make it even more authentic.

Read-alikes: Brown Girl Dreaming (Woodson), Catching a Story Fish (Harrington), Inside Out and Back Again (Lai), One Crazy Summer (Williams-Garcia)