cover image In the Key of Us

In the Key of Us

Mariama J. Lockington. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-374-31410-1

Ten months after the death of her artist mother, 13-year-old Andrea “Andi” Byrd, who lives with her mother’s pregnant sister, has lost any desire to express herself through her trumpet. Arriving at prestigious, predominantly white Harmony Music Camp, the rising seventh grader feels like an outsider, not used to the rigid schedule or the competition. Outside of friendship with Christopher Flores, who is of Filipino descent and navigating familial experiences of his own, Andi is often grouped with the only other Black camper: 12-year-old Zora Lee Johnson, a flautist who struggles to meet her perfectionist parents’ standards. As the two build a true connection—Zora helps Andi improve her playing, while Andi helps Zora embrace her true passion—they start to trust each other with insecurities, secrets, and moments of self-discovery. Alternating the two perspectives with verse interstitials, Lockington (For Black Girls Like Me) weaves an exploration of mental health, self-harm, and microaggressions with a love letter to music, the importance of representation, and the work of sticking up for the person one dreams of becoming. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Apr.)