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Mia Fullerton has earned her nickname because of her timidity among her middle school classmates. Now, as high school begins, she is determined to change her image by following the instructions in a self-help book, and inadvertently agrees to run for freshman class president at St. Hilary's. She wins over her classmates by telling them to vote for "Mia the Meek, Queen of the Freaks." Meanwhile, she is surprised by the attention that Jake, a boy she's had her eye on for years, is paying to her since she got rid of her glasses and braces. However, she keeps finding herself daydreaming of Tim, her cocky new neighbor. Overall, there is too much going on in this novel. Mia is busy dating Jake, playing one-on-one basketball with Tim, maintaining her grades, arguing with her parents, preparing for the Academic Bowl, coordinating class-president responsibilities, and suffering through having her mother as her English teacher. The story is full of clichéd embarrassments, including dropping her retainer in the cafeteria trash, falling down in the school bathroom, and setting the science lab on fire. Additionally, some of the dialogue is unrealistic for ninth graders. Still, Mia is a strong character who is brainy and competitive and has the same worries as many girls. Fans of the good-girl-finding-her-way genre might enjoy this one.
—Karen HothCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
At a deafening speed, I plunged downward, timidly peering over the top of my runaway car. With a white-knuckled grip on the safety bar, I screamed in horror. Past the first gargantuan hill, I was catapulted through the atmosphere, and crashed back to Earth looking like a meteor with a pony tail. Right before I became fertilizer, a thunderous voice exploded in my ears.
"Mia, it's high time you get up! Are you going to sleep your entire life away?"
Bolting upright in bed, twisted in a tangle of sheets, I came face to face with my mother. Catching my breath, I muttered, "I'm up already. Jeez, it's still summer break, in case you've forgotten."
"I've hardly forgotten, because you remind me of it every day," my mother said. "But my vacation is over, so I need you to get moving so I can get to work."
I raised my eyebrows. "You're not really going to wear that, are you?"
"What's wrong with this outfit?" My mom's red hair floated around her head in a halo of unmanageable curls as she looked down at her "flower power" T-shirt and bell-bottom jeans. "You used to like the way I dressed."
"I also used to like Pokémon, so I don't think what I used to like counts for much. Sometimes, a person needs to grow up."
"I refuse to change just because you don't approve of my funky clothes. Some people are happy with who they are and aren't constantly trying to change themselves."
"First of all, nobody says 'funky' any more, and secondly, forty-year-old women shouldn't wear tight T-shirts and hip hugging jeans."
"Excuse me, but I am only thirty-eight years old, and I can use any words I want because I am an English teacher, and etymology is my specialty."
"Isn't etymology the study of bugs?"
"No, etymology is the study of words. You'd better know things like that if you're going to be on the Academic Quiz Bowl team this year."
I rolled my eyes as my mom droned on.
"I'll be in my classroom, and Dad's at the office, if you need to reach either of us. And remember to wear your retainer and make sure you and Chris eat a healthy lunch—not what you ate yesterday."
"What's wrong with fish and chips?"
"Goldfish crackers and corn curls do not qualify as a nutritious meal."
"Fine, I'll feed the dork some granola."
"Look, as the older sister, you're expected to lead by example." She kissed me on the top of my head. "And I don't want you two watching TV all day."
"What would we watch? We don't have cable. You know, even people in prison have cable, Mom."
"Maybe that's why they're in prison in the first place—they watched too much TV when they were young." She headed toward the door and I dropped the TV issue. I had a much bigger battle to fight today. Tilting my head to the side, I put on my most innocent expression.
"What do you think about teaching seniors next year? They need a good teacher to get them ready for college term papers, and I know how much you get into writing thesis statements."
She ran her fingers through her hair.
"How many times have we had this conversation? I'm the freshman English teacher at St. Hilary's High School, and you're stuck with me this coming year. You should be glad someone who loves you will be grading your essays."
"If you really loved me, you wouldn't torture me by being my teacher. Most of my friends hardly ever see their parents, but I'm being forced to spend more time with you. I'm being given a prison sentence—without cable TV, I might add—of having to see you every day for over an hour."
"There are worse things in life than spending time with your mom."
I sighed. "If you're so intent on ruining my life, can you at least promise me you won't dress up like Sherlock Holmes when you do the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle unit? And that you won't wear the wizard's cloak for your unit on fantasy literature? You look like a freak."
"I like my costumes, and so do my students."
"Your students think you're weird, Mom."
"I may be weird, but I'm also going to be your teacher next year." She continued toward the door. "Oh, by the way, a new family is finally moving into the Petersons' house next door. Why don't you bake some cookies and take them over as a house warming present? Maybe they'll have some kids your age to play with."
"Mom, I'm fourteen, not seven—I don't play any more. And there's no way I'm going over to a stranger's house with cookies."
"Why? It'll make them feel welcome and it'll give you something to do."
"I wouldn't even know what to say to them."
"You'd say, 'Here are some cookies, and welcome to the neighborhood.' It amazes me how you can shoot your mouth off to your family with absolutely no trouble at all, yet you're too terrified to utter a peep to a stranger." She looked at her watch. "Look, I know you get nervous talking to new people, but I need your help. And I'm really late, so I've got to get going." She hurried from my room, leaving behind a trail of Birkenstock shoeprints.
After I heard the front door slam, I reached under my bed and pulled out my library book: Excruciatingly Shy: How to Defeat Public Fear and Become Popular. "Chapter One: Methods for Mastering Social Anxiety: Face Your Fears and Commit to Change." I snuggled into my pillows. Good-bye, "Mia the Meek."
"Exercise one: Imagine you are at a party and someone asks you to dance." I closed my eyes and imagined Jake in my arms.
"Are you having a seizure or something?" I opened my eyes and saw Chris, his red, curly hair matted from sleep.
I turned my attention back to my book. "Get out of my room."
Chris scratched his stomach, pulled up his oversized boxer shorts, and burped. "What are you reading, The Joys of Geekdom?"
I covered the title with my hand, but he pulled the book away from me and laughed.
"Excruciatingly Shy: How to Defeat Public Fear and Become Popular? You're a bigger loser than I thought. Jake Harris will never like you, no matter what you read."
"What do you know about Jake Harris? Have you been reading my diary again?"
"Only when I need help falling asleep." Chris tossed the book on the foot of my bed. "Reading a book isn't going to stop people from calling you 'Mia the Geek.'"
"The name is Mia the Meek, and for your information, I'm no longer going to be known by that name. This year, I'll be known as 'Mia the Magnificent.'"
"More like 'Mia the Moron.'"
"If your brain was chocolate, it wouldn't fill an M&M," Chris said, picking up my book.
"Come on, tell me how you're going to try to become normal—I could use a good laugh."
"All right, I'll tell you, but only since you're begging me to." I put my book down and laid out my plan. "You see, I figured out there were two classes per grade at Assumption, and each one had about twenty-five students in it."
"And how long did it take you to figure that out?"
"Oh, shut up," I said. "Do you want to hear my plan or not?" I pushed him away. "And what are you doing? Get away from me!"
"I was just listening to see if I could hear the ocean." He sat back on the end of my bed and started picking between his toes. "Well, don't stop there, Einstein. I can't wait to be blown away by the rest of this amazing scheme."
"Have you ever considered suing your brain for non-support?" I took a deep breath, praying for patience and the restraint not to kill him. "Anyway, me and my classmates have all gone to school together at Assumption since kindergarten, so I've been with the same 49 people for approximately 1,620 school days."
"So, I know every disgusting detail of their lives, and vice versa. But I start high school at St. Hilary's next week and a lot of people there won't have heard of Mia the Meek. I'm changing myself into a new, more outgoing me."
"Will the new you be as ugly as the old you?"
"Sometimes I wonder what you'd be like if you'd had enough oxygen at birth."
"All right, keep talking about this miraculous makeover. I'll yawn when I'm interested."
"That's it," I said, holding out my hands, palms up. "That's my whole plan."
"That's it? By reading a dumb book, you think you'll be able to change yourself into some big party girl? You are so bent. Don't you know that popular kids have either got it or they don't? And you definitely don't have it."
"I should've known better than to try talking to you like a human being rather than a primate." I pointed to the door. "And if you don't leave my room this instant, I'll tell Mom you have a Victoria's Secret catalog under your bed."
"Then I'll show Mom your diary with all your fantasies about Jakey-poo."
I got out of bed and stood an inch from his face. "I'll give you one last warning: Get out of my room, or else."
"Only if you promise you'll miss me," Chris replied, running out the door and slamming it behind him.
Faced with another monotonous morning stuck with the ignoramus imbecile, I lay back on my bed and stared out the window. The movers were hauling in our new neighbors' furniture. It all looked boring and beige. So as not to prolong the misery of being forced to hand cookies over to strangers, I wearily hoisted myself out of bed and headed down to the kitchen to whip up my special recipe of chocolate chip cookies. If I timed it right, the neighbors would be so busy with the movers that I could drop the cookies and run.
"Oh no, I'm too late."
"Too late for what?" Chris asked, walking into the kitchen and shoving a cookie into his mouth. I threw a bunch of cookies on a plate and handed it to him.
"Mom wants you to take these over to the new neighbors'."
"Get real. I heard Mom and you talking this morning. She told you to take them over."
"I'll give you five dollars."
"And miss watching you hyperventilate talking to a spooky stranger?"
"Your whole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others." I grabbed the plate of cookies from Chris and stormed out the back door, with him following doggedly at my heels. While I still had the nerve, I marched up to the neighbors' front porch and forced myself to ring the doorbell. Instantly, a kid about my brother's age appeared, bouncing a soccer ball on his knee.
Before I could say anything, Chris asked, "Want to come over to my house and play soccer? I live right next door and I already have a goal set up."
"Cool." The kid turned around and yelled into his house: "Hey, Mom, I'm going over to our neighbor's house. See you later!"
Before it fully registered, Chris and his new best friend disappeared. Panic swept over me at the prospect of being left alone on a stranger's stoop. I was just about to drop the cookies and run when a gorgeous guy with thick brown hair and the body of a Greek god appeared in the doorway, causing my legs to become utterly useless.
I locked eyes with him and realized they were the same shade of mocha brown as my favorite teddy bear, Mr. Snuggles. I immediately shifted my gaze, and that's when I saw he was holding the book Whisper. A cute guy with Mr. Snuggles's eyes reading my favorite book? This was too good to be true.
He asked through the screen door, "May I help you?"
I held out the plate. "Would you like some cookies?" Oh God, I sound like a deranged Girl Scout!
He opened the door a crack.
"Are you part of the welcome wagon or something?"
"Um, yes. I mean no. Uh, I mean ..." I jabbed the plate of cookies into his gut. "Here." I turned and sprinted down the porch steps, wondering how hard it would be to convince my parents we had to move immediately.
"Wait a minute. What's your name?"
Not stopping, I called over my shoulder, "Mia."
"Mia, can you wait a second? I need your help."
I was a sucker for a gorgeous guy in need. I bit my lip and turned around.
"I need to find my brother, Kevin. He's about five and a half feet tall, brown hair, and extremely annoying. He's supposed to be helping me unpack the boxes for our bedrooms. Have you seen him?"
I nodded my head. The guy looked at me curiously.
"Can you tell me where he is?"
I took a deep breath. "He's at my house next door playing soccer with my little brother, Chris. Would you like me to get him for you?"
"No, I'll do it." From the plate, he grabbed a couple of cookies and shoved one into his mouth. "These are awesome."
"Thanks," I mumbled, making a beeline for my backyard. He set the cookie plate down on his porch and jogged beside me.
"Don't you want to know my name?"
I nodded, too petrified to speak.
"It's Tim. Tim Radford." I nodded again and he said, "You don't talk much, do you?"
I shrugged my shoulders. Oh God, why did my backyard suddenly seem a million miles away?
"Any chance you've read the book Whisper?"
"Cool! I just finished it and I'm dying to talk to someone about it. Didn't you think it was totally radical how the government took over people's lives by implanting brain chips?"
Before my brain could stop my mouth, I exclaimed, "And wasn't it cool how they figured out in the end how they should build relationships with people, not machines?"
He stopped walking.
"Relationships? You make it sound like a romance novel."
"I didn't mean relationships like that." Why did I open my mouth? I should have stuck to nodding. I wet my lips and continued, "I meant how all the people in the book have to talk to each other through machines and how that affects their feelings for each other."
"Feelings? It's about government control."
"I know there's government control in the book, but I think the most important idea is about human interaction."
"Human interaction? What are you, a thesaurus? I think you missed the big picture. You should read the book again."
"But I've already read it three times!"
"You had to read Whisper three times? I only need to read a book once to understand it."
We arrived in my backyard and I headed directly for my door. If talking to strangers was going to be this hard, staying shy wasn't all that bad an option.
Tim called to my retreating back, "If you need to read Whisper a fourth time, you can borrow my copy. I can even highlight all the important points, so you won't miss them this time."
I slammed the door behind me, remembering I never really liked Mr. Snuggles all that much anyway. I picked up the phone to call my best friend, Lisa, so I could give her the 4-1-1 on my new neighbor. After several rings, Lisa's mom, Mrs. Davis, answered. Mrs. Davis has a doctorate in psychology and I think she was secretly conducting a case study on me. Not wanting to give her any more research material, I quickly asked for Lisa.
"I'm sorry, Mia. Lisa is at her grandparents until school starts. They surprised us with a visit last night and took Lisa home with them. I have a theory they're using Lisa as an attachment figure to compensate for some sociological need they're missing in their lives. By the way, how are you feeling about starting high school next week?"
Not knowing if she meant physically or mentally, I replied, "I feel great, Mrs. Davis, but I have to go. I hear my brother calling for me," and hung up the phone.
I plopped down on a stool at the kitchen counter, thinking, Next week, I'm going to conquer ninth grade, and then it's the world. Figuring I would need a lot of energy to do all this conquering, I finished off the rest of the cookies on the counter.
"I'd do anything to get out of Mrs. Clean's evil empire. Look at the bruises I have on my knees from scrubbing baseboards all week."
"A little elbow grease never hurt anyone." My dad looked at me closely. "Aren't you supposed to be wearing your retainer?"
I sighed. "I'll get it and meet you outside." Positioning my retainer in my mouth, I combed my hair into a ponytail and joined him.
Once outside, my dad tossed me the ball.
I checked the ball to him to start the game and then immediately scored.
"Bet you're sorry you're such a gentleman."
Coming back with a long shot from the corner of the court, he said, "I'm not that much of a gentleman."
Within minutes, we were battling back and forth, point for point. With my dad breathing hard, I looked to take advantage by driving the lane for a lay-up over his head. The shot scored, but as I came down, I tripped and landed flat on my face, my chin bouncing off the pavement. My dad ran over to me.
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I think so," I said, rubbing my chin. "But my retainer flew out of my mouth. Do you see it?"
"It's over here."
We turned in unison to see Tim pointing at his shoe, my retainer perched on top of it. My dad whistled.
"Wow, what are the odds of that?"
Not in the mood for statistics, I grabbed my retainer off Tim's shoe and popped it back in my mouth. When it occurred to me where it had been, I gagged, spitting it back into my hand.
"Sorry about interrupting your game," Tim said, "but I came over to ask if you know of a good pizza place around here. My mom's tired of unpacking and wants to go out to eat tonight."
I stood mute, mesmerized by the remnants of my saliva dripping down his shoe.
"For the best pizza, you should try Nick's on the corner of Vine and Birch Street," my dad replied. "And thanks for cushioning the blow of Mia's retainer. She's got to wear that every day for the next year."
"No problem." Tim glanced at me. "You know, if you'd used your left foot to push off of for your lay-up, you would've had more control on your landing and might not have fallen on your face. I guess your basketball skills are about equal to your reading ability."
Excerpted from Mia the Meek by Eileen Boggess Copyright © 2006 by Eileen Boggess. Excerpted by permission of Bancroft Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted November 4, 2008
In MIA THE MEEK, Mia is determined to no longer be known as meek. Especially when she is about to begin high school. High school is her new chance to shed her old meek self and to blossom as someone outgoing. Someone fun. Someone not meek. <BR/><BR/>Readers are aware of the fact that Mia has the potential for non-meekness. She can certainly show snippy behavior towards her mother and her little brother. "You're not really going to wear that, are you?" and "If your brain was chocolate, it wouldn't fill an M&M" are a few or Mia's not-so-meek comments that make you wonder why she has such a problem standing up for herself with anyone outside of her family. <BR/><BR/>Perhaps her snippiness at home is a result of the verbal abuse she takes at school. Cassie and her friends are not afraid to tell her she is "so ugly she'd make blind kids cry," and seem to love to let Mia know when she has done anything not meeting their approval. In spite of the way they treat her, Mia still trusts enough to share some of her deepest secrets with people who use them against her. She fails to recognize that when Cassie asks her if she's wearing make-up that she should ignore them or say something smart. Instead Mia lets them know that she's not allowed to wear make-up. Her heartfelt answers let you know that she is ever hopeful of others. <BR/><BR/>Of course being non-meek is not as easy as Mia hopes. Then there's the fact that her mother is her teacher, that incident involving wearing a suit of armor, class president elections, crushes, and all of those other potentially embarrassing, potentially strength-building events in teenagers' lives. <BR/><BR/>Mia's situations are presented with quirky humor so you are able to feel her pain, but are also able to laugh at the absurdity of adolescence. She is a witty heroine that readers will enjoy bonding with. <BR/><BR/>MIA THE MEEK is the first novel for Eileen Boggess and is the beginning of the Mia Fullerton series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 9, 2007
Last year I met the Author, she was soooo cool. So when I got home my friend bought the book, read it and told me about it. She lent me the book, and within a day and a half I was done with the book! I loved it and can't wait till the next one comes out!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
As she begins her freshman year at St Hilary¿s High School, fourteen year old Mia the Meek decides she will change her image from scaredy cat to extrovert. She knows it will not be easy because she needs to ditch her glasses and remove those rail lines on her teeth, but Mia the bold will go forth and do social things hopefully with Jake, the impetus for her need to change her image as a hunk like him would never notice a nerd like her.------------- Her biggest problems besides her younger brother are her mom teaches English at the school so academic and behavioral expectations are beyond the stratosphere. Shockingly she wins the election for class president defeating the most popular female at St. Hilary¿s in the process. More stunning Jake seems to like her. However, as Mia becomes increasingly ¿bootyilicious¿ she makes new friends and begins to leave behind her old pals who were always there for her nerd or not, but mostly finds she enjoys athletic contests with her new neighbor terrible Tim. They are the most fun.-------------------- - Mia the terrific is a delightful protagonist who takes chances and makes mistakes, but keeps trying. Middle school readers will enjoy her escapades as she lands in one fiasco after another. MIA THE MEEK is an amusing character driven look at crashing into the high school in crowd.-------------- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 4, 2007
My 6th grade daughter LOVED this book. She found it to be 'hilarious' and very relevant to the issues she faces every day at school. From popularity and boys to homework and parents. This author is obviously in-tune with the minds of adolescent girls. Great read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 28, 2009
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