cover image Clouds over California

Clouds over California

Karyn Parsons. Little, Brown, $16.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-3164-8407-7

In 1970s Southern California, 11-year-old biracial Stevie is experiencing an overload of newness, including a new neighborhood, new school, and new classmates who tease her about her natural hair. Even once familiar staples in Stevie’s life are shifting before her eyes: her best friend, Jennifer, is dodging her calls now that Stevie has moved across town, and Stevie’s white father and Black homemaker mother are getting into arguments late at night about her mother’s desire to go back to school. The sudden arrival of her 15-year-old cousin Naomi—whose parents shipped her from Boston to Santa Monica to prevent her from joining the Black Panthers—throws a curveball in Stevie’s struggle to find her footing. As she grows closer to outspoken Naomi, Stevie begins unlocking her own untapped inner confidence. But even as Stevie’s social life starts looking up, she worries that her mother’s increasingly odd behavior—leaving home at strange hours and taking phone calls with someone named Clarence—could spell disaster for things at home. Told through a spirited first-person perspective, this earnest novel by Parsons (How High the Moon) seamlessly connects key historical moments during the Black Power movement, social politics, and evergreen tween conflicts surrounding agency and independence. Ages 8–12. (July)