For Black Girls Like Me
For Black Girls Like Me

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Annotation: Eleven-year-old Makeda dreams of meeting her African American mother, while coping with serious problems in her white adopted family, a cross-country move, and being homeschooled.
Catalog Number: #194295
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 321 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-374-30804-7 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-6070-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-374-30804-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-6070-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018035461
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Kirkus Reviews
A transracial adoptee navigates a new school, a mentally ill parent, and questions about her identity.Eleven-year-old Keda, who is black and was adopted as an infant, has just moved to Albuquerque with her parents and older sister, Eve, leaving her best friend (and fellow black adoptee), Lena, behind. At school and around town, Keda knows she sticks out like a sore thumb next to her white family. When her musician father leaves for a world tour, Keda and Eve are left with their mother, whose undiagnosed, unmanaged bipolar disorder is spiraling out of control. The portrayal of their mother's disability is moving, but stylistic choices make the novel a difficult one to navigate, particularly for a middle-grade audience. Letters between Lena and Keda (both handwritten and in the form of Tumblr posts) and sporadic free-verse chapters break up Keda's first-person account, but the latter have an arbitrary rather than organic feel. On a sentence level, Lockington has such an aversion to commas that dialogue tags appear not to be attached to the speech they reference; asides, addresses, and appositives feel jumbled inside sentences; and list items aren't separated. An overreliance on sentence fragments causes them to lose any dramatic effect. From a characterization standpoint, aside from family members, too many others come across as straw men, walking onstage to hurl a racist slur and then vanishing from the narrative.The myriad themes explored are compelling, but the execution gets in the way. (Fiction. 8-12)
Publishers Weekly
In this outstanding middle grade debut (told without commas in a mix of narration, letters, and poetry), Lockington (The Lucky Daughter for adults) introduces budding poet Makeda Kirkland, 11, a black girl adopted by a white family. Her cellist father and former violin prodigy mother move their family from Baltimore to Albuquerque, forcing Keda to leave behind her best friend, Lena, the only other black girl she knows with a mixed adoptive family like her own. While struggling to cope with racism at school, Keda, along with big sister Eve, is left to care for their increasingly erratic mother after their father goes on tour abroad. Keda-s persistent dreams of her birth mother and a family with skin that looks like hers collide with the unsettling reality of her mother-s mental illness and the frightening possibility that the only mother she-s ever known could be lost. With intimate authenticity, she explores how fierce but -colorblind- familial love can result in erasure and sensitively delineates the pain of facing casual racism, as well as the disconcerting experience of being the child of a mentally ill parent. Age 8-12. (July)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Eleven-year-old Keda is a Black adoptee to white parents. After her family moves from Baltimore to Albuquerque, she struggles with changing schools and leaving behind her best friend, Lena, who was also adopted into a mixed family. Keda's daily life is filled with indignities from her adoptive family, hate speech from classmates, and microaggressions toward her skin, hair, and "white" mannerisms. When her father leaves town to go on tour, Keda and her sister are left to care for their mentally ill mother, even as Keda dreams of her birth mother and what life might have been like with family members who looked the same as her. In this nVoices middle-grade debut, Lockington captures the joy and angst of transracial adoption. Keda's first-person narration is broken up by material in various formats including handwritten letters (to Lena), emails, poetry, and Tumblr posts. The result is an authentic and intimate portrayal with themes of identity, mental health, education, and family. Any Black girl struggling to navigate a white family will find comfort in chapter headings such as "Questions I Have for Black Girls like Me." This is a necessary read for girls struggling with identity and purpose within their families, as well as a powerful coming-of-age story of Black womanhood.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (7/1/19)
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Reviews
Word Count: 54,823
Reading Level: 3.5
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.5 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 502853 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.7 / points:12.0 / quiz:Q77240
Lexile: HL500L
Guided Reading Level: E

In this lyrical coming-of-age story about family, sisterhood, music, race, and identity, Mariama J. Lockington draws on some of the emotional truths from her own experiences growing up with an adoptive white family. I am a girl but most days I feel like a question mark. Makeda June Kirkland is eleven years old, adopted, and black. Her parents and big sister are white, and even though she loves her family very much, Makeda often feels left out. When Makeda's family moves from Maryland to New Mexico, she leaves behind her best friend, Lena-- the only other adopted black girl she knows-- for a new life. In New Mexico, everything is different. At home, Makeda's sister is too cool to hang out with her anymore and at school, she can't seem to find one real friend. Through it all, Makeda can't help but wonder: What would it feel like to grow up with a family that looks like me? Through singing, dreaming, and writing secret messages back and forth with Lena, Makeda might just carve a small place for herself in the world. For Black Girls Like Me is for anyone who has ever asked themselves: How do you figure out where you are going if you don't know where you came from?

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