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My Year in the Middle

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  505 ratings  ·  111 reviews
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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published 2018 by Candlewick
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Krista Regester
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lu is a middle school student in racially-polarized 1970 Alabama, who doesn't quite fit. She navigates through family, friend, and school dynamics while trying to learn about herself. This is perfectly written for the desired audience and covers so much in so little pages. ...more
Adriana Martinez Figueroa
Rating: 5/5 Stars


This review turned into a critical analysis of the book, but I promise it’s worth it. But, heed my SPOILER ALERT. You’ve been warned! (view spoiler)
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
My admiration for this middle-grade novel kind of snuck up on me. I liked the pace and the main character from the start, but the more I read, the more I loved the way the Argentine American main character found herself in increasingly more situations where she had to make choices about how to deal with anti-Black racism. And both the situations and her choices felt organic to the character and the plot. It's set in a small town in central Alabama in 1970, but the parallels between Wallace's gub ...more
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Before I "review" this book, I would like to state, that if you are under the age of 50 some of which you will read in this book will seem very hard to believe, but as a 72 year old "White" woman, I do recall (not with pleasure ) a number of the events which the author includes in the book.

George Wallace stated "and I say . . . segregation today . . . segregation tomorrow . . . segregation forever."

The time is 1970, the setting is Red Grove, Alabama - Ex-Governor George Wallace is campaigning t
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book tackles many issues that Black and Latino YA faced who lived through the Wallace-era South in the late 1960s and 70s. The author includes self confidence, speaking up, girl-power, anti-bullying, and anti-racist themes. If you’re trying to find that happy-medium book for YA with this criteria, this book would be appropriate for grades 4+.
Ms. Yingling
May 13, 2018 rated it liked it
E ARC from
Did not meet the needs of my collection at this time.

The politics in the early 1970s were interesting, and I can't think of another middle grade book where the characters care so much about particular candidates, but I think this is very true to the era.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My students are loving it!!!!!
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids, middle-grade
I wish I could be as brave as Lu. It's the 1970's in Alabama and tension is high as schools begin to desegregate. She literally sits in the middle of her classroom with all the white kids on one side and the black kids on the other. She's from Argentina and faces her own set of prejudices and knows how important it is to take a stand. In this year of sixth grade she learns a lot about her friends, both old and new, and the power of being courageous and finding your voice. This would make such a ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This gave an interesting perspective on the Civil Rights movement. The main character is a Hispanic immigrant who is caught in the middle of the divide between her white and black classmates, which made for an interesting story. I felt, however, that some of the characters weren't well developed. The struggles Lu had with her family could have been deepened more to better develop the story. ...more
Clare Lund
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Unique perspective of an Argentinian-American girl growing up in Alabama in 1970, just after schools were desegregated. I loved the subplot about her joining the track team and making new friends, and learned a lot about the Wallace v. Brewer election for governor. My 7th & 8th grade book club really enjoyed it and had some great discussions. Ages 10 and up (but might require some historical context).
Wendy Garland
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Set in Alabama in 1970, the story takes place post-segregation but a racial divide still exists in the town and school. Lu just wants to make friends and explore her new interest, running, but will have to stand up to kids at school and even to her own parents. This is a story about standing up for what is right and finding the possibilities in that uncomfortable space.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
A really wonderful book that handles important historical topics through the eyes of a middle schooler.
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Story of a Hispanic girl during segregation.
George Wallace running for governor.
Lots of the white kids are going to a private school to be away from the black kids.
I felt it.
Kären Marroquin
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Such a unique perspective to see 1960's Alabama through the eyes of an immigrant girl. Lu Olivera is sweet and relatable character who learns to find real friendship, follow her passion and find the gumption to choose a side instead of staying in the middle. A timely book. ...more
Westminster Library
The year is 1970 and Lu Olivera is a sixth grader who loves to do the things normal sixth graders do. Quite by accident she discovers that she likes running track. All around her however there is social upheaval, the effects of which are seen even at her school. As if that wasn't enough, her old friends have all started acting weird. Why can't things just stay the same?
This book although set in time nearly 50 years ago is still relevant. Young readers can be inspired by the example of Lu. Somet
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This isn’t the first book I’ve picked up at TLA that focused on things like prejudice and bigotry, and yet these topics seem increasingly relevant these days.

Argentinian immigrant Lu Olivera is in sixth grade and is facing new and interesting challenges, such as “my friends have discovered boys and makeup and I don’t see the appeal” and “I’m really good at this sport but the others mock me for it” and “I want to be friends with this girl, but she’s black and people will talk”.

Okay, that last o
Laura Hill
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Writing: 5 Plot: 4.5 Characters: 5

Thank you to Candlewick Press and NetGalley for an early review copy of My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver, which will publish July 10, 2018.  All thoughts are my own.

Excellent middle grade level story about racial tensions in Red Hook, Alabama, on the eve of the gubernatorial election of 1970 (hint: George Wallace wins). Lu Olivera is a fabulous character — she is the quiet and unassuming daughter of Argentinian immigrants who finds her own voice and
Review originally published on my blog, Books and Big Ideas

Disclaimer: I was provided an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Netgalley.

My Year in the Middle is a new middle grade novel set in a fictional Alabama town during the 1970s governor primary race featuring known racist and segregationist George Wallace. Lu's family immigrated to the area from Argentina when she was young, like the author herself. Her school is now integrated, but in every class the white kids sit to one sid
Michelle Leonard
This was a NetGalley ARC given for free in exchange for an honest review. Set in 1970 amid a contentious Governor’s race in racially charged Alabama, Lu finds herself literally and figuratively ‘in the middle’. Seated in the middle row of class with black classmates on one side and white classmates on the other, she also navigates the world as the daughter of Argentinian immigrants. Great story that parallels current times.
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: by-and-about-poc
Lu is a passionate, sensitive protagonist whose personality jumps off the page. This story provides a nuanced view of racism in history and sets a great example in showing young readers how to stand up for what is right in spite of doubts and peer pressure.
Drawing in part on her own experiences in Alabama during the civil rights movement, the author highlights the pivotal year of 1970 in Red Grove, Alabama during which one sixth grade girl finally takes a stand. Protagonist Lu Olivera has been reared by her parents, immigrants from Argentina, to do the right thing. She is friendly enough to all her classmates, but the school's recent integration has resulted in a racial divide in her classroom with Lu and some of the students feeling as though the ...more
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, middle-grade
I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this when I started because we're immediately introduced to a somewhat stereotypical female gym teacher with beefy arms who uses a lot of southern jargon that to me, an Ohioan, felt super forced in her first spoken sentences: whippersnappers, kit and caboodle, and "lazy sheilas" that I had to Google and could only find entries about how Sheila is an Australian term for girl but maybe it's also a southern thing(??)...

But I'm glad I kept with it because I don't kno
Thanks to Candlewick Press for the arc of this book!
Many might think that sixth graders don't have challenges. After all, they're only in elementary school. In this historical middle-grade novel, set in Alabama with racial conflicts in the race for governor (Wallace's last term), young Lu Olivera has learned she loves to run and is good at it! In the prep for field day given by her pe teacher, Mrs. Underwood, Lu nearly wins and is only beat by Belinda, a black classmate. Thus the ending weeks o
Jaina Rose
Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review and many more like it are available at Read Till Dawn .

I don't know what it is about this book, but it's taken me literally six months to work up the energy to review it. Even now, I'm only doing it because it's worked its way to the top of my review calendar.

Perhaps I've just read one too many books about desegregation in the South. It's an interesting topic, but there reaches a point where all these books about white girls learning to stand against racism for the sake of their o
Valerie McEnroe
All of the civil rights books I've read take place post Civil War through the 1960s. This book is set in the early 1970s in Alabama after all the states have desegregated. Alabama is still trying to turn back the clock. Ex-governor George Wallace, a segregationist, is running again against moderate Albert Brewer for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Racially, Lu is caught in the middle. Her family is from Argentina, neither white nor black. Her parent's philosophy is to stay out of the fra
Nov 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: review-books
My Year in the Middle provides the reader a look at segregation in the south, during the 1970’s, from the view of a sixth grader. As a child it is hard not to be influenced by the political views of your parents. Author, Lila Quintero Weaver, does a great job of showcasing this parental influence while also introducing us to Lu’s classmates and their political and racial opinions.

Lu Olivera is particularly confused, she is not black, and not white, but rather a girl from Argentina. She’s litera
Tiffany Reynolds
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Set in Alabama in 1970, this upper-grade novel is narrated by sixth-grader Luisa Olivera, who hesitates to take sides in her integrated classroom. I was part of an integration project in 5th and 6th grade, and the racism in the book rang true: the black kids sat on one side of the room and the white kids on the other, with very few crossing the invisible border to make new friends. Lu, being from Argentina, fits into neither category and sits in the middle row, along with a few white kids whose ...more
Carolyn Breckinridge
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's likely I'd never have found this book on my 0wn, given that it's written for middle-grade readers, so I'm happy it was a book club pick. 'My Year in the Middle' by Lila Quintero Weaver takes place in a fictional Alabama town, Red Grove, in 1970, in the midst of significant social change. Lu, a young girl from Argentina, finds herself (and her family) thrown into fallout from the George Wallace/Albert Brewer gubernatorial struggle and the social and racial implications that existed therein. ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This middle grades book is a must read in my book! It also answers the questions lots of students ask me when we study the Civil Rights Movement: what about the other minorities? Were they discriminated against just like black people?

It’s 1970 in Alabama, and Lu Olivera is stuck in the middle row of her 6th grade class. Her school recently integrated, so the black students sit on one side of the room, the white kids sit on the other side of the room, and the kids who don’t quite fit in with eith
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
An entertaining story about friendship, following your heart, and courage. Lu sits in the middle row in Miss. Garrett's Social Studies class, white students on one side and black students on the other. It's 1970, racial integration in the school is still new, Wallace is running for governor, and Lu is caught in the middle. She is from Argentina, and sometimes feels like she does not fit in with either group. She is having issues with her old best friend, Phyllis; she does not understand why they ...more
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