cover image For Black Girls Like Me

For Black Girls Like Me

Mariama J. Lockington. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-374-30804-9

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. [em](July) [/em]