Millicent Min has an impressive resume. She started elementary school at age three, has over seven television appearances to her name, and is the subject of more than six articles on the subject of gifted children. Now that she’s eleven and a half, she’s about to start her senior year of high school. She is, in short, a genius.
In Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Millicent must endure the summer between her junior and senior years of high school as she counts down to the day she will be free from the company of children, and finally be able to spread her wings in college. This summer, her parents have signed her up for volleyball classes and offered her services as a tutor to friend of the family and obnoxiously typical twelve-year-old boy Stanford Wong. On the upside, they’ve allowed her to register for a poetry class at a local university, and this summer she’s made her first friend.
I love this book. There is no way to express it better than that. Millicent goes through all the difficulties of being a smart kid, and she experiences them to the extreme. Her alienation, awkwardness, and pride are all emotions with which anyone ever considered “that smart kid” can identify. Her precociousness is charming and alarming; it seems slightly wrong for a girl of almost twelve to prefer spending time with her poetry professor to attending slumber parties. At the same time, for those of us who are the same way, it seems just right.
Like many other children’s and young adult books, Millicent Min, Girl Genius shows us how much change can happen over one summer. Millicent starts off knowing it all, needing no one, and socializing almost exclusively with her grandmother. By the end of the book she realizes she has a lot to learn, comes to appreciate her parents more, and starts hanging out with kids her own age. I strongly recommend Millicent Min, Girl Genius to anyone who loves to laugh, has ever felt like they knew better than the rest of the world, or has been told they’re too smart for their own good.
Book: Millicent Min, Girl Genius (Affiliate Link)
Author: Lisa Yee (lisayee)
Publisher: Arther A. Levine Books
Original Publication Date: 2003
Age Range: Middle Grades
Source of Book: Library
Other Blog Reviews: propernoun.net, Planet Esme
Links: Lisa Yee Interview at Bildungsroman,
Favorite Quotes (page numbers from the hardcover edition):
“Maddie says you goof off in class,” I told him, flipping to a blank page in my college-ruled spiral-bound notebook. I love blank pages, they hold so much promise. (p. 55)
Although Mom is an actuary, her long-term goal is to obtain a master’s degree in paleontology. Mom loves dinosaurs. Which is why, she says, she married Dad. (p. 64)
One song in particular caught my fancy. It involved an ant who had high hopes about a rubber tree plant. After we sang it a second time, I led an impromptu discussion on the symbolism of the ant. Emily and Alice listened intently and later shared their views as we passed around a bowl of popcorn laced with Tabasco sauce. I imagined that this was what Woodstock must have been like. (p. 75)
I like to reread books after letting a significant amount of time pass. You can’t imagine what went through my mind when I first read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood when I was six. I couldn’t sleep for weeks. When I read it again last year, I couldn’t sleep for days. I take that as a sign that I’ve matured. (p. 99)
All these years I’ve waited to go to college thinking that once I was there, everything would change. Everything would be better and I would finally find a place where I fit in . It is a cruel joke on me then that college is just like high school, only bigger. (p. 193)
I wish I had school twenty-four hours a day. (p. 196)