Weaver, Lila Quintero. My Year in the Middle. Fiction. Candlewick, 07/2018. 268pp. $15.99. 978-0-7636-9231-5. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-7.
Drawing from her own experience, the author has created a lively, warm-hearted story about Argentinian American sixth grader Lu Olivera, set in fictitious Red Grove, Alabama in 1970. In the first year that her school has been integrated, Lu sits in the middle row of her classroom between the black kids and the white kids. Lu becomes politically aware as the election for the governorship plays out between moderate Albert Brewer and racist George Wallace. On the personal front, she is torn between her previous unknowing comfortable friendships with white Abigail and Phyllis and the scary new ground of being friends with black Belinda, with whom she bonded, as the best runners in their class. As more of the white kids move over to private, white-only East Lake Academy, Lu finds she is no longer content with sitting in the middle—she has to take a stand. This is a satisfyingly rounded picture of a young girl growing up at a challenging time in a challenging place and finding her own conscience, while keeping her voice entirely appropriate for a slightly naive, smart, and curious 12-year-old. A great read for tweens interested in social justice. Review based on an ARC.
Hayley Beale, San Francisco University High School