Generation Misfits

by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Author)

Generation Misfits
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Generation Misfits by Akemi Dawn Bowman is a heartwarming, fish-out-of-water own voices story about an eleven-year-old Japanese-American girl who finds her true friends--through the power of J-Pop!

Millie is attending a real school for the first time, and she dreams of finally having friends and a little bit of freedom. She finds her chance when she joins an imitation band of her favorite J-Pop group, where she's thrilled to meet a group of misfits who quickly become a tightknit group of friends that are like family. But Millie soon realizes that one of them is dealing with problems bigger than what notes to hit when it comes time for their performance.

Can Millie help her friend, even when their problem feels too big to say out loud?

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Eleven-year-old Japanese American student Millie Nakakura is starting her first day of school at Brightside Academy, a K-12 magnet school for visual and performing arts. The day gets off to a rough start when Millie, a former homeschooler, is late to several of her classes, spills her lunch on the most popular girl in school, and struggles to make friends. Spotting a flyer in the hallway, Millie shows up to J-Club, a Japanese cultural appreciation group. There, she meets Tina Suzuki (Zuki for short) and the two become fast friends. Hoping to increase membership, Zuki and Millie hold open auditions to turn J-Club into a cover band of their favorite J-pop girl group, Generation Love. Soon they are joined by nonbinary student Ashley Seo, shy theater student Rainbow Chan, and popular dancer Luna Acevedo. The band of self-described misfits sets their sights on trying out for the Pop Showcase, a school talent show, but along the way they form lasting bonds of friendship. Millie struggles to balance schoolwork, J-Club, and practicing the flute for the school band with her parents' high expectations of excellence. Meanwhile, Zuki begins seeing the school counselor regularly for problems related to her home life, Rainbow is tormented by bullies, and Luna and Ashley must face a tough conversation stemming from a misunderstanding in their past to resolve tension in the present. The novel's strength lies in writing that respects the emotional lives of adolescents, and in the realistic and honest portrayal of young people supporting one another on their journey to becoming their true selves. VERDICT This character-centered coming-of-age novel features authentic dialogue with a fully realized cast of diverse characters, and celebrates the power, importance, and value of friendship. Highly recommended for school and public library collections.

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

A heart-warming story about friendship that will have readers cheering for Millie and her friends. —Debbi Michiko Florence, author of Keep It Together, Keiko Carter

"A rhythmic, melodic story of friendship and bravery. You'll not only root for Millie and her misfits—you'll want to join them." —Ashley Herring Blake, author of Stonewall Honor Book Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World

Akemi Dawn Bowman
Akemi Dawn Bowman is a critically-acclaimed author who writes across genres. Her novels have received multiple accolades and award nominations, and her debut novel, Starfish, was a William C. Morris Award Finalist. She has a BA in social sciences from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and currently lives in Scotland with her husband and two children. She overthinks everything, including this bio. Visit Akemi online at her website or on Instagram.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
June 20, 2021
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books starred, 07/01/21

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