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My Year in the Middle

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  178 ratings  ·  63 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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4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  178 ratings  ·  63 reviews

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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.
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
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My students are loving it!!!!!
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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 one
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids
Excellent own voices fictionalized memoir set in Alabama in 1970, just after desegregation. The more the book goes on, the more Lu discovers that the middle is a very uncomfortable place to be. This is the year where she discovers her love of running, finds new friends and loses old ones, starts to think about boys and finds, in the end, that she needs to make a stand. It's an eventful 6th grade year. I like that most of her battles are social ones, and that while she is hesitant in deciding how ...more
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
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
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
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver, 288 pages. Candlewick Press, 2018. $16.

Language: G; Mature Content: PG (racism); Violence: G.



The year is 1970 and many people in Alabama wish desegregation had never happened. Segregationist George Wallace is running in the Alabama gubernatorial race. Racially, Lu is caught in the middle. Her family is from Argentina, neither white nor black. At school, blacks sit on one side of the room, whites o
Michelle Kidwell
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing

My Year in the Middle
by Lila Quintero Weaver
Candlewick Press

Children's Fiction , Middle Grade
Pub Date 10 Jul 2018

I am reviewing a copy of My Year in the Middle through Candlewick Press and Netgakley:
Set in an Alabama classroom in 1970 The Year in the Middle tells the story of a young girl named Lu Olivera while black kids sit on one side of the classroom and white on the other Lu Olivera is one of the few kids who sit in the middle.

Lu Olivera is a sixth grader who wants to get along w
Steven Brown
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent follow-up to her superb graphic memoir, "The Dark Room." True to Weaver's own childhood experience (I presume) this book doesn't feature the gripping drama of the earlier book, but rather is filled with the subtleties and ambiguities of teen life under the pressure of changing social values. Chronology dictated that the first book documented the violent years of the Civil Rights movement, while this provides more of an inside look at the slow grind and less-dramatic conflict that at ...more
Jb Warren
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
My Year In The Middle is a terrific Middle Grade book and one that this reader believes should be in the shelves of every classroom.
Lu Olivera is a sixth grade girl who discovers a passion and a talent for running and a new friend who shares her interest. But her new running friend, Belinda Gresham, is black and this story is set 1970 Alabama during a time of racial tension.
Lu opens the book by explaining that, "Miss Garrett’s classroom is like every other at our school. White kids sit on one
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
June 1970 sees a shift in Alabama, one that re-amplifies the voice and ethos of George Wallace, a devout segregationist. Into this environment, Lu has to move from her position in the middle and take a side. Does she remain loyal to her white friends who will leave their public education and attend a private school so as to not have to attend school with black students? Or will Lu follow the path of her sister and her friend, Sam? Their path is the one of protest against segregationist values an ...more
Lila Quintero Weaver's autobiographical novel tackles the subject of segregation. In 1970 Alabama, schools have recently been desegregated, and many folks are not happy. Lu, who is of Argentinian descent, literally sits in the middle row of her sixth grade class. This row of three or four students divides the white and black students in the class. Meanwhile, George Wallace is trying to become re-elected as Georgia's governor, and he wants to re-segregate the schools. Will Lu's friends and family ...more
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