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Full Cicada Moon Book Review- A Lyrical Novel in Verse Set in the 1960s

Full Cicada MoonFull Cicada Moon Book Synopsis

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. 

Full Cicada Moon Book Review

Full Cicada Moon is one of those rare novels in which you shouldn’t speed through the pages, but savor each lyrical word instead. Marilyn Hilton has a wonderful rhythm in every line, creating a feeling of hope and a sensation of soaring in the right moments. Hilton recreates the atmosphere of 1969 Vermont effortlessly and captures this wonderful voice of a young mixed-race girl in the midst of it all.

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It is 1969 and Mimi has to leave all her friends and cousins behind in California for a small town in Vermont. Right away, she has a difficult time fitting in. People look at her strangely and sometimes, there are some who don’t believe her mother (the Japanese side) is her mother. Starting school is just as difficult because she doesn’t look like everyone else and is made to feel it.

Then there’s the whole Home Ec. versus Shop problem. Why can’t girls learn how to use tools? Why must they only learn how to cook and sew? Mimi is anything but a conformist and she’s not going to take no for an answer and learns to stand up for her beliefs even when everyone wants to shut the door in her face.

Along the way, she finds a best friend (with a mother who doesn’t want anything to do with Mimi), and a boy who sometimes visits his Uncle next door, the Uncle another man who doesn’t want anything to do with Mimi’s family.

And even though there’s much stacked against Mimi, she keeps on moving forward with contagious optimism and finds people to believe in her hopes and dreams along the way. While she deals with ignorance and misogyny, Mimi also finds rays of light and encouragement. She is going to become an astronaut one day and nothing can stop her.

Overall, Full Cicada Moon is a gorgeous coming-of-age story anyone can read and appreciate. I loved how fully Hilton immerses us into 1969, Mimi’s excitement for the Apollo missions another highlight of this sweet, hopeful and inspiring novel in verse. While there’s not a whole lot of action, the characterization of the characters will keep you just as invested in reading the next page. Full Cicada Moon is a wonderful, historical fiction novel you don’t want to miss.

Adaptation Recommendation

Full Cicada Moon would make a lovely, coming-of-age film told from the voice of a young mixed-race teen girl that hasn’t been told on screen yet. The historical background and Apollo missions would make for a wonderful setting. While there have been less coming-of-age films as of late (aside from a few Indie films that we rarely ever hear about due to zero advertising), I say it’s time for a comeback. As for casting, I would find an unknown to play the part of Mimi, someone with amazing charisma.

What do you think about Full Cicada Moon? Sound off below…


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By on August 3rd, 2016

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely site and works as a YA Librarian.

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