Five Reasons to Read It #3: MILLICENT MIN, GIRL GENIUS

I just finished:

By Lisa Yee
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2003

Here are five reasons to read it.

1. Millicent.  What a character.  She’s hysterical, and her 1st-person POV is pitch perfect.  She is an eleven-year-old girl who happens to be a genius.  A clueless genius.  The comedy – and the pathos – of this novel spring from the divide between Millicent’s intellectual abilities and her emotional readiness.  She is so far ahead of other eleven-year-olds that she doesn’t realize how very eleven-years-old she really is.

2. Emily and Stanford.  These two non-genius middle-schoolers are very different from Millicent and very different from each other, and they are not only excellent foils but feel like complete people.  I adored Emily instantly – she’s darling, real, and a great role model, with her wonderful inner reserve of self-confidence.  Stanford made me laugh and roll my eyes, and then emerged as a hero.  Each of these characters deserves – and has! – their own book, which I now can’t wait to read.

3. Maddie.  (Are you sensing a theme here?  This book is all about characters.)  Millicent’s relationship with her grandmother Maddie is amazingly well drawn. Maddie is one of the very best grandparent characters I have ever read.  Would that every child had a Maddie to understand them.

4. Millicent’s parents.  They’re well-rounded people, funny and intimate and interesting, limited only by Millicent’s POV.  It’s SO nice to read about a marriage in which, when problems arise, the adults can be angry and frustrated and yet love each other. 

5.  It feels classic.  Yee sits easily with Cleary and Blume and the other quintessential Authors of Growing Up.  She simply gets it right.  I laughed with Millicent, I ached for her, and I cried when I turned the last page, both because I loved the book and because I wished very much that it had been written when I was eleven. I needed this book very much, when I was eleven.  If you know a young girl around that age, do her a huge favor and give her this book.


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