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In a racially polarized classroom in 1970 Alabama, Lu’s talent for running track makes her a new best friend — and tests her mettle as she navigates the school’s social cliques.
Miss Garrett’s classroom is like every other at our school. White kids sit on one side and black kids on the other. I'm one of the few middle-rowers who split the difference.
Sixth-grader Lu Olivera just wants to keep her head down and get along with everyone in her class. Trouble is, Lu’s old friends have been changing lately — acting boy crazy and making snide remarks about Lu’s newfound talent for running track. Lu’s secret hope for a new friend is fellow runner Belinda Gresham, but in 1970 Red Grove, Alabama, blacks and whites don’t mix. As segregationist ex-governor George Wallace ramps up his campaign against the current governor, Albert Brewer, growing tensions in the state — and in the classroom — mean that Lu can’t stay neutral about the racial divide at school. Will she find the gumption to stand up for what’s right and to choose friends who do the same?
About the Author
Lila Quintero Weaver was born in Argentina but grew up in Alabama, where she still lives with her husband. She is the author-illustrator of Darkroom, a graphic memoir. My Year in the Middle is her first book for young readers.
Based on true events in Lila Quintero Weaver's own 1970s childhood as an Argentinian immigrant in a small Alabama town, My Year in the Middle is a moving story about finding one's center in the midst of overwhelming external pressure. Lu is believable as a girl who is afraid to "stick [her] neck out too far."...Any reader who has struggled to find a safe and happy place between polarities will appreciate Weaver's deep understanding of just how difficult—and rewarding—this can be. —Shelf Awareness for Readers (starred review)
It's not always easy standing up for what is right, but sometimes, you just can't stay in the middle...Young readers will relate to Lu as she navigates friendships, first love, and politics, cheering her on to the finish line. An important and relevant story that will make kids stop and take a look at the world around them. —Kirkus Reviews
Readers will be immediately transported to early 1970s Alabama in this story about Lu Olivera, a sixth- grader who finds herself drawn ever more deeply into the civil rights movement and politics at her school...This story is inspired by the author’s experiences, and it shows in introspective Lu’s observations of people around her. An excellent read for any budding activist or history buff, as well as pretty much any kid who likes a story about kids finding their gumption. —Booklist
Readers will root for this spirited protagonist to find her moral footing in this solid, enjoyable work of historical fiction. —Publishers Weekly
Based on true events in Lila Quintero Weaver's own 1970s childhood as an Argentinian immigrant in a small Alabama town, My Year in the Middle is a moving story about finding one's center in the midst of overwhelming external pressure...Any reader who has struggled to find a safe and happy place between polarities will appreciate Weaver's deep understanding of just how difficult—and rewarding—this can be. —Shelf Awareness Pro
Young first-generation immigrants will see themselves reflected in Lu when she translates for a Cuban neighbor, and again when she finds herself “in the middle” and must either stand with her friends Belinda and Spider or side against them with her silence...A well-drawn depiction of an immigrant experience with a social justice lens. A solid addition for public and school libraries. —School Library Journal
Inspired by the author’s childhood, this work of historical fiction offers an insider voice and unique perspective on the era, reminding readers that race relations remained contentious long after the 1964 Civil Rights Act...This is a worthy choice for recreational reading and informing students about the civil rights era. —School Library Connection
“My Year in the Middle is both powerful and sensitive, offering a unique view of important historical events through the eyes of an immigrant girl who longs for social justice, friendship, and romance.” —Margarita Engle, Young People’s Poet Laureate and Newbery Honor–winning author of The Surrender Tree
“Wonderful! A heart-touching story with a spunky heroine who shows her grit and determination during troubling times. I was cheering for Lu from beginning to end!” —Christina Diaz Gonzalez, award-winning author of The Red Umbrella and the Moving Target series
“A timely and powerful story, My Year in the Middle conjures an era of American racism and shows how a strong immigrant girl can make a difference in her community. This is a book that will resonate for young readers in these fraught times.” —Ruth Behar, Pura Belpré Award–winning author of Lucky Broken Girl