Sunday, June 27, 2021

Generation Misfits

Bowman, Akemi Dawn. Generation Misfits
June 29th 2021 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Millie has always been home schooled  by her parents, Scott and Jane, who are very invested in everything their daughter does, especially when it comes to playing flute, since they were both band geeks themselves. She desperately wanted to go to Brightside Academy, which has a strong performing arts emphasis, but when the time comes to actually attend, she is apprehensive. She finds it difficult to make friends, especially after spilling her lunch on a popular girl, and isn't quite sure how to "school", so frequently doesn't turn in assignments the correct way. She gets second chair flute in the 8th grade band, only to have her position challenged later. The only thing that makes her feel better is listening to her favorite J-Pop band, Generation Love. Things are miserable on all fronts until she meets Zuki, who wants to have a J-Pop club. Millie's parents don't want her to spend time socializing, so she lies and says she has to stay after school for academics. For a while, it's just her and Zuki, but when they decide to put together a performance group to compete in the school Pop Showcase, they attract Luna, who is a dance major but also a big J-Pop fan, Ashley, who identifies as nonbinary, and Rainbow, who has also had problems fitting in. Zuki is a little too controlling of the group, but has issues of her own, and Millie struggles with her classes and is getting D's and F's, which makes her parents angry. Will the group be able to overcome internal and external drama and be able to compete successfully in the showcase?
Strengths: There are not a lot of books about children transitioning from home schooling to public school, and Millie's difficulties with understanding what homework to do are realistic. She eventually makes a multicultural cast of friends who band together over a common interest. While not many of my students are J-Pop fans (although a few sport K-Pop t shirts), this is a fresh take on musical interests. Books set in private schools seem exotic to my students, especially when uniforms are involved. 
Weaknesses: The happy cover is at odds with the tone of the book, which is very angst ridden. Once Millie finally finds a group of friends, things are still not happy because of all of the drama. 
What I really think: This will be popular with readers who enjoy diverse ensemble casts like the one in Shepherd's Babysitting Nightmares or the Girls Who Code series, and with readers who like 
Torres' Flor and Miranda Steal the ShowJones' Girl vs. Boy Band: The Right Track. The parents seemed unrealistically difficult, and the first fifty pages were filled with all of Millie's despair. Perhaps the target demographic will enjoy Millie's wallowing more than I did. 

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