Wednesday, July 17, 2019

For Black Girls Like Me

Lockington, Mariama J. For Black Girls Like Me
July 30th 2019 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Makeda is adopted, and her musician parents and older sister, Eva, are white. This has always been a problem on many levels. People don't know what to think when they see a black girl with a white mother, and make rude comments about it. Also, her mother, despite all of her talk about understanding Keda's cultural background, doesn't know enough to do Keda's hair properly or get her the right sort of lotion for her dry skin. This might be because her mother is struggling with issues of her own. When the family moves for the father's job (he plays with an orchestra), it is a hard transition for everyone. Her mother doesn't have a position of her own, and refuses to practice or to take on students, even though she occasionally throws herself into projects with enthusiasm. After a bad experience in their new school, the girls are pulled out by their mother and homeschooled. Keda does enjoy the homeschool community they join for additional lessons, activities, and socialization, but is increasingly worried about her mother's erratic behavior. When their father must travel out of the country for work, their mother takes them on a trip to Colorado where her behavior worsens and leads to a very intense situation. Luckily, their aunt steps in, and the family is finally able to struggle through getting the help they need.
Strengths: This is an interesting discussion of transracial adoption, and is an #ownvoices book. Keda's struggles are related in a detailed way, and her sadness is palpable. Her mother's increasing mental illness is also well described, and it's good that help finally comes. The depiction of microagressions (as well as larger ones) that Keda has to deal with because of her family is also sad but realistic.
Weaknesses: So many of my students come from families with mixed races that I wish this had included a few instances of more positive racial relations. I know that this is a difficult balance to strike.

Ms. Yingling

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