Monday, April 27, 2009

Call me Mimi: The World's Ugliest Beauty Queen

Call Me Mimi: The World's Ugliest Beauty Queen
by Francis Chalifour
Language: English
Toronto : Tundra Books, ©2008.
178 p. ; 20 cm.
ISBN: 0887768237; 9780887768231
Reading level: Young Adult
Protagonist: girl, 17
LOC Summary: Seventeen-year-old Mimi, overweight, heads to Toronto to find her sperm donor father after things go awry at her prom. 
My review: Overweight, seventeen-year-old Mimi has always known that her mother conceived her via anonymous sperm donation and Mimi has spent her entire life looking for this phantom father who she has never met in this young adult novel from Canada.  Her favorite pastimes are Céline Dion, history, and a game she often plays with herself when she is walking down the street: looking at men and wondering: "Is that man with the briefcase my father? What about the one with the folded La Presse? Or the one looking at his reflection and picking his teeth, God forbid?" Mimi likes to stare at every man she passes, "men in jogging shorts, men in ragged jeans, men in chinos ... Could any of them be my father? ... When I'm on the subway, or when I walk down the street, and I see a man, there's always this thought that maybe it's him." 

Finally, after years of the anguish of not knowing who she really is, she decides to take a trip to Toronto after high school graduation, to the sperm bank her mother used in order to have her. The problem is, her mother refuses to let her go on her own, even though she is about to start college in the fall. "I don't understand. Why is finding him so important to you?" her mother asks. But Mimi does not have an immediate answer, only that she believes it will help her to find herself in her "quest for the truth" and to "put myself in order."  But Mimi does make it to Toronto and Mimi does know what she is looking for, as she confides in a friend she later meets there, "I need to know where I come from. It would be nice to know about his genetic background, like if he has cancer, or heart disease, or Alzheimer's in his family. It's always useful to know." But, she confesses to herself, "that's not what I was looking for. I wanted to find my roots. If I knew him, perhaps I would know myself better. I also wanted the love of a father." And, "to let him know that I exist." As her quest continues, Mimi becomes even more clear to herself what she is looking for when she finally makes her way to the sperm bank and is asked why she came. "My primary goal is to learn more about his family history, looks, talents, and interests. I would also like to have some sort of medical history and an idea of how many pregnancies were conceived from this donor." And also if she has any brothers and sisters. Mimi is however crushed to learn what many sperm donor children often learn, that the information on her donor dad is kept "strictly confidential." "The sperm donors are guaranteed that their names will not be released." The sperm bank does however release some public bits of information about him, that he is: "Caucasian. Red hair. Blue eyes. 5 foot 9. 140 lbs. Blood group, O positive," and that his interests include history. Mimi is ecstatic with this information.
Reviews: School Library Journal

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