This is a book that all middle school-aged students should read and discuss. Barbara Dee has perfectly captured the confusion that occurs as one moves through puberty. Mila is the perfect example of how a young girl, whose body is changing, begins to attract the attention of some boys at her school. She does not understand their attention. The boys have invented a game that pushes the boundaries of impropriety, not knowing or understanding how they affect Mila. She has the added problem of her best friends' seeming to have abandoned her when she needs them most: Zara seems to only focus on herself and is quick to get angry; her friend Max is coming to terms with his sexuality and is trying to cope with his own identity crisis; Omi is the quiet one who simply wants everything to be okay. The story explores the necessity of teens being able to share their confusion, to be able to talk to a trusted adult, to explain things that are personally embarrassing, and to be able to stand up for themselves. This is an example of learning to say "no" when others trivialize one's feelings. This book will help students to better understand the changes in their bodies and their emotions. They will also learn to trust the adults in their lives to help them address issues that young teens neither understand nor know how to explain. There is also a lesson for the adults who work with children: we must listen to them and take what concerns them seriously. This title should be on suggested reading lists in order to help young women know that they can take charge of their lives. The book is equally important for boys so that they might understand their own feelings and the feelings of those who might be victims of their adolescent humor. This title belongs in the school library as well as the classroom library. It is perfect for book clubs in middle school, serving as an excellent literary tool as well as a tool for discussion of how we should treat one another.
Barbara Dee explores the subject of #MeToo for the middle grade audience in this heart-wrenching—and ultimately uplifting—novel about experiencing harassment and unwanted attention from classmates.
For seventh-grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. A few days later, at recess, one of the boys (and fellow trumpet player) Callum tells Mila it's his birthday, and asks her for a "birthday hug." He's just being friendly, isn't he? And how can she say no? But Callum's hug lasts a few seconds too long, and feels…weird. According to her friend, Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn't she know what flirting looks like?
But the boys don't leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.
It doesn't feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself.
From the author of Everything I Know About You, Halfway Normal, and Star-Crossed comes this timely story of a middle school girl standing up and finding her voice.