Today I'm going to review a book much lighter in vein than recent ones. It is a book to read for fun, to relieve a hard day at work or serious writing, or even just because you don't have anything else on hand to read. Whatever your reason, it is, first, a book you will laugh about, and second, a book you SHOULD read if you're writing anything for girls aged 9 to 14.
Millicent Min is an eleven year old genius. She began kindergarten at the age of three and now, at eleven, she is in the eleventh grade in high school, is taking a college advanced poetry class, and is looking forward to being a full time college student before she enters her teens. She has appeared on television seven times, and has been the subject of six articles on highly gifted children.
The first sentence of this book---"I have been accused of being anal retentive, an over-achiever, and a compulsive perfectionist, like those are bad things"---perfectly sets the stage and captures the unique voice of this charming and amusing story.
Millicent must spend the summer between awaiting the start of her last year in high school. Unfortunately, she has the social and athletic skills of a gnat, and consequently, has no friends her own age, or even of high school age. She has no trouble in espousing her knowledge about any and all subjects, so anyone who might be considered her peer tends to shy away from her. She spends her spare time with her grandmother, who often gives advice she has gained from watching her favorite TV show, Kung Fu.
Her parents decide she must have a more well-rounded life, so they sign her up for summer volleyball at the high school, something that Millicent says "It reminds me of kindergarten--something I tried but was just not suited for." Even
more horrendous, her mother informs her that she is to tutor Stanford Wong, son of a family friend. Millicent would rather go back to elementary school than take on the task of trying to teach this annoying and totally obnoxious boy anything, but she has no choice.
Her first day of volleyball practice turns out as badly as she expected it to, but she does meet Emily Ebers, a new girl in town her own age, and who hates volleyball as much as Millicent. They become friends, but Millicent goes to great lengths to hide her mental capabilities, fearing that like everyone else, if Emily finds out Millicent is a genius, she will dump her. Needless to say, this deception leads to comic disaster, especially when Emily runs into Millicent and Stanford at the library, and Stanford immediately tells Emily HE is the one tutoring Millicent. There is more than one hilarious complication resulting from the Emily-Millicent-Stanford trio.
To be expected, Emily accidentally finds out about Millicent's IQ, and true to form, she dumps her. However, this is not because Millicent is a genius, as she believes, but because Emily is hurt that Millicent didn't think their friendship was strong enough for her to tell Emily the truth. Now Millicent is faced with a problem she can't solve as easily as she does any academic test question. How can she earn back Emily's trust and friendship?
There are several colorful characters in Millicent's life, including her down-to-earth mother, her very laid-back father, and of course, her often out-in-left-field grandmother. Her interactions with her family, with Emily and Stanford, and her journey to the discovery that true friendship, trust, and the acceptance of herself and others is something not measured by IQ but by one's inner spirit make for an engaging and heartfelt story. It deserves an A+ by any grading system, and a place of honor on your bookshelf.
Until next time,
That's a wrap.