Mighty Inside

Sundee T. Frazier. Levine Querido, $17.99 (248p) ISBN 978-1-64614-091-6
In this richly layered historical novel set in 1955 Spokane, Wash., Frazier (The Other Half of My Heart) recounts the first few months of high school for freshman Melvin Robinson, one of two Black boys in his class. Always feeling inferior to his accomplished siblings, Melvin loves science, reading, and music, but is painfully embarrassed by his stutter, which has recently ramped up. The narrative follows Melvin’s successes and setbacks in gaining control of the stutter, building a friendship with jazz-loving Jewish boy Lenny, fending off a bully, and shyly pursuing a relationship with Millie, who is of Japanese American descent. Frazier skillfully weaves in interpersonal moments (Melvin’s brother is admonished as “not those kind of Negroes”) and historical signposts (the lynching of Emmett Till) to shine a light on systemic racism in the United States. Young and adult characters are well developed, tension builds slowly and expectantly to a satisfying climax, and the author’s familiarity with the landscape (per an author’s note) is evident in the solid, detailed sense of place. A well-constructed and movingly told story of a thoughtful Black boy making his place in his family and in 1950s America. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/14/2021
Release date: 10/12/2021
Genre: Children's
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