cover image Sellout


Ebony Joy Wilkins, Scholastic Press, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-545-10928-4

As an African-American, NaTasha is in the minority in her New Jersey suburb, but her social situation changes drastically and presents a set of new challenges when she spends several weeks with her grandmother, Tilly, in Harlem. Tilly is a well-crafted, fiery character who volunteers at Amber's Place, a teen crisis center. She brings NaTasha with her in hopes of broadening her experience, though NaTasha feels out of her league ("I didn't belong here, among these girls.... Their stories were straight from the talk shows, stories that weren't even real"). A trio of aggressive, cliquey girls resent NaTasha for her perceived snobbery, and over the course of the novel, all the girls are forced to release their preconceived notions about each other, face their fears, and work together in order to plan a graduation/recognition ceremony. NaTasha has a tendency to spell out every detail of what she's thinking or going through, but it's rewarding to watch her growth, as she recognizes her own problems (at one point confessing she wishes she weren't black), while debut author Wilkins explores the building of confidence, morals, and survival skills. Ages 12–up. (July)