Letter Essay #7 – Ashley Salvatore

Full Cicada Moon

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Currently, I am reading Full Cicada Moon, by Marilyn Hilton. I have read 328 pages of this 384 page, historical fiction, and Nutmeg Nominee. Hilton, the author of many other award-winning books, spends much of her time also as a teacher of the Japanese language in middle school enrichment programs, and has studied ochado, or tea ceremony in Kyoto Japan. Her final interest includes the computer software industry, in which she has worked as a technical writer and editor. Currently, she lives with her multicultural family. Full Cicada Moon was published in 2015. Finally, I read it because it was a Nutmeg Nominee, and it was also one of my much-needed genres to be read, historical fiction.

In Full Cicada Moon, the setting first takes place in January of 1969. Mimi Yoshiko Oliver is a 12-year-old girl, when her and her family must move from the busy, crowded streets of California to the chilly state of Vermont, specifically the town of Hillsborough. But, getting ready for a new life is easier said than done for Mimi, as she is of mixed race. Shortly within her stay in Vermont, people are not seeing the real her, but instead seeing what’s on the outside. She soon is struggling to fit in at school, and is knowingly standing out as a result of entering science competitions and wanting to be in Shop, rather than Home EC at school.

Despite this, as time goes on, Mimi is finding her place in this unusual town, and is doing her best to fit in, in the midst of discovering a best friend, and a school who cares more for her than she thinks. Meanwhile, at home, with the white blankets of snow covering the chilled grass, Mimi and her family find peace and happiness within themselves.

And, as the Apollo 11 mission is preparing for launch to the moon, Mimi is continuously holding on to her dream of becoming an astronaut.

I liked how the author kept the text in a peaceful and steady tone. This is something that inclined me to keep reading, as I found this book to be enjoyable to read. I saw how even through bad situations for Mimi, there was always a way the author found to put the scene in a calming perspective.

I noticed how the author used many “Words of the Wiser” moments throughout the novel. An example in Full Cicada Moon would be when her and Stacey (her best friend) go to the store to celebrate Stacey’s birthday, and Mimi thinks to herself, “And because angry words are like minutes on the clock — once you use them, you can’t get them back. (pg. 124)” I liked this quote because it was very symbolic to the meaning of use time wisely.

Lastly, the narrative voice in this book was Mimi. It was helpful, in the sense that I could understand her thinking better as an individual, and see her reasoning behind certain actions and risks that she took in a new environment, such as in her new school in Hillsborough, Vermont. Last but not least, is a quoted passage from the text that greatly interested me. It said:

“Falling snow

is the sky

touching the ground.


Last night

the sky drifted

down —


by flake

by flake,

so pretty and graceful

and quiet–

then it bent low,

poured out,

and lay down in itself. (pg. 93)”


I liked this quote, because it is just one example of how well Hilton paints a picture in the reader’s mind. When I read this, I was imagining the snow slowly and gently drifting down, creating a soft, white blanket of snow. It reminded me of winter, and remembering what it was like.

I would rate this book a 9 out of 10 for the great detail and structure that was portrayed throughout the entire book.

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3 thoughts on “Letter Essay #7 – Ashley Salvatore

  1. Dear Ashley,

    Your letter essay, in my opinion, is very well written. When I started to read I had no idea what this book was about until now. You gave enough detail to the reader without giving the whole storyline or plot away. The letter essay was pretty straight to the point which I enjoy because, it’s a drag when people add too much unneeded information in their paragraphs, but you didn’t do that. I also liked how you let the reader know why you rated the book a 9 out of 10. For a suggestion I’m pretty sure as a guideline you need to add a phrase or quote to every paragraph in your reflection section, I could be wrong. Keep up that effort 🙂


    Claudia M.

  2. Hey Ashley!

    Wow! During the summer of my seventh grade year, I was looking at the Nominee list and I saw this book, I first thought I would read this book due to the cover but I quickly dismissed the idea. I really wish I read this book, but now after I read your letter essay I think I will. When the quote in the book was all most like a poem and that was amazing to hear! 😀 Thank you for the letter essay!

    ~Elisabeth Berg 🙂

  3. Ashley,
    This was a really well done letter-essay: interesting information in the Introduction, a concise Summary and a Reflection with a good amount of analysis and textual evidence. Keep up the good work.
    Mr. Jockers

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