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The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Marva rescues Duke and his little sister when his car won’t start. After this “meet cute” introduction, Marva and Duke spend an eventful day racing around Los Angeles to get Duke to the right polling place before it’s too late. Told in chapters alternating between the two main characters, the day begins with a debate of their different perspectives on citizenship and activism. As they get to know each other, they open up about more personal topics, like their plans and ambitions, families, friendships, and romantic relationships – both past and maybe-soon-to-be-past.
The action kicks off right away and keeps going as the clock ticks down to eight p.m., when the polls close. Current political issues are naturally part of a novel set on Election Day; rather than distracting from the story, these issues touch the characters’ lives in a way that raises the stakes and moves the plot forward.
This is a good choice for teens who like “rom coms” and stories like The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon and Just One Day by Gayle Forman.
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers / Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Known as the “Black brother” in his family because his brother Trey is lighter skinned than he is, Donte has had a hard time adjusting to his new private school, Middlefield Prep, and feels out of place as one of the only Black students. Things take a turn when Donte is arrested and suspended. During his time away from school, Donte takes up fencing in order to join the Middlefield Prep fencing team and beat the ringleader of the racist bullying that caused Donte’s suspension.
With an unjustified and racially motivated suspension as the hook, short chapters, and an overall compelling story told in a concise way, this book makes for an excellent pick to hand kids who just have not found the right read yet. The story is realistic in the way Donte deals with prejudice at school, feelings about being the “Black Brother” in his family, and how fencing does not exactly come easy to Donte, no matter how determined he is to beat his bully, Alan. Readers will connect with Donte, feel outraged at the treatment he faces, and find themselves flipping through to find out if his fencing aspirations come true.
Fans of Dear Martin and Clean Getaway by Nic Stone, New Kid by Jerry Craft, Jason Reynolds’ Track series, and A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee as well as underdog stories like the Karate Kid moves will also enjoy the realistic read that is on point.
–Molly Dettmann and Jade Valenzuela
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