Cell Phone Envy

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Mya Parsons is a twelve-year-old girl whose main goal is to work for the United Nations when she grows up. With the help of her best friend Cleo, she manages the KSJ (Kids for Social Justice) club, hosting meetings and setting up fundraisers to help people around the world.

Everything in the club is running smoothly and the two girls couldn’t be happier together…that is, until Cleo gets a cell phone from her parents.

“Mya’s Strategy to Save the World” by Tanya Lloyd Kyi tells the story of Mya’s struggles at home and in school as she deals with stress, peer pressure, and betrayal. The book is primarily written as a short novel, but also includes some of Mya’s KSJ posters, emails to Cleo and her mom, and the occasional letter.

Mya didn’t really worry about not having a cell phone before, but now that her best friend has one she can’t think of anything else.

She had asked her dad for a cell phone in the past, but he always joked (hopefully) that they would get her one when she’s thirty-five. Her mother, who recently flew to Myanmar to take care of her sick grandmother, doesn’t seem to agree with Mya either.

In order to prove herself worthy of a cell phone, Mya takes up more responsibilities around the house and finds her own ways to earn money for one while also working on her group project and bake sale fundraiser for KSJ.

She starts cleaning the house and yard, taking her little sister Nanda to the park for skateboarding lessons, and even starts making dinner with the help of her aunt Winnie. To make more money, she begins offering a babysitting service, since her dad won’t pay her for taking care of Nanda (not even for the low-low rate of five dollars an hour).

Despite all of her hard work, Mya’s attempts to get her well-deserved cell phone take a downwards turn: Cleo’s becoming more distant and hangs out more with her other classmates and Nanda’s skateboarding keeps getting her into trouble. To make matters worse, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that her mother is going to come back soon. But after doing some more research for KSJ, Mya begins to wonder if a phone is really worth the effort.

“Mya’s Strategy to Save the World” provides several highlights to what middle school can be like, from facing peer pressure to having to cope with little siblings. It is easy to put yourself in Mya’s shoes and understand everything she’s going through. I would recommend this book for kids in middle school, as they would find it the easiest to relate to.