Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
It’s 1969, and Mimi Oliver is the new kid in a Vermont town. She’s not just new, she’s half-black, half-Japanese, from California, and a science nerd with a dream of being an astronaut. Fitting in might just not happen.
Full Cicada Moon is a novel in verse, so the story flies along quickly, picking moments of Mimi’s life rather than lingering too long anywhere. Details jump out occasionally, but they don’t always stick, waiting to resurface later on as something more important than you expect.
By the end, it becomes clear that Mimi, despite all the differences she and others see, is not all that different. The other characters might not share her skin color or gender or love for all-things-space, but they all carry their own struggles. No one is perfect, but everyone can find a space to be who they need to be.
Expectations were different in 1969 and into the 1970s. Things might have been changing, but not without some resistance and not quickly enough for some of the people living it. I remember being the only girl in a shop class in the late 1970s. The boys mocked me, the counselor didn’t understand why any girl wouldn’t want to be in home ec, and the teacher didn’t know what to think of me. I was awful at it, too, which didn’t help, but the teacher loved that I took notes during his safety talks – I was enough of an outsider that it never occurred to me that you wouldn’t do that – so I still got an A on my report card. I kept the wooden fork and spoon for years, ugly as they were, because they reminded me of my own small rebellion.
So I loved Mimi, for who she was and for who she might become. I think you will, too.