The calls for more diverse books, more diverse characters and more diverse writers has certainly paying off with a slew of amazing stories for audiences of all ages, providing different perspectives on experiences. I’ll put Sheela Chari’s Finding Mighty in that category, although her story would clearly hold up even without this talk of diversity.
Finding Mighty is a mystery story, of sorts, with a small group of urban New York City youths searching for hidden diamonds. The setting is the city itself, with Parkour being part of how young people navigate the landscape. Graffiti art and family history, and a rotating narrative view of different characters all provide tension and atmosphere that moves this story along.
While one of the main characters, Myla, is Indian-American and the other, Peter, is African-American, (and one of their friends is white with Netherlands roots), this range of ethnicity is part of the fabric of the story itself. Chari addresses the difficulty of assimilation and retaining cultural connections, but only in service to the story. We understand these characters better as a result as they develop friendship and kinship, and perhaps, we come to understand each other, too.
I enjoyed the ways the kids put together the clues they find, and how the family histories are part of the mystery, and the way that the city itself was nearly a character — with subway trains and tracks, the old Aquaduct water system as part of a map, historic houses, and more. It’s all woven together nicely.
This book is very appropriate for upper elementary and middle school students.
Peace (on the street),