Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Indigo and Ida

Capps, Heather Murphy. Indigo and Ida
April 4th 2023 by Carolrhoda Books
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Indigo is very interested in investigative reporting, so even though she is usually well  behaved and doesn't get into any trouble, she spray paints a quotation from Winnie the Pooh on the school sidewalk in order to get sent to afterschool detention. She is supposed to read a book about a "social influencer", and finds a book on Ida B. Wells left there by a substitute teacher.  She also finds out that students are not allowed to go to the restroom, and even though this is clearly stated in the school handbook, she finds it unfair. Her parents, both doctors, are not too thrilled that she's gotten into trouble, but they are both heavily invested in issues of social justice, so understand. Her father, who is Black, and her mother, who is white, are both involved in being street medics, attend protests, and work hard to make sure that their work environment is fair. Indigo follows their lead with her investigations, and often angers Principal Belkin. This has also alienated her from some of her friends, who don't want to be involved in her crusades. Indigo has a blog through the school web site, and has a decent amount of followers. Upon reflection, she also realizes that detention attendees seem to be largely Black and brown kids. She thinks a great way to make change happen at her school is to keep investigating, but also to run for student body president. Unfortunately, her opponent is the popular athlete who is running to spite her and has no concrete ideas about what he would do in office. The letters of Wells inspire Indigo when she is feeling down. There are issues outside the school community as well, with a Black man who was in a lot of distress being turned away from the hospital. Indigo's parents are involved in this, of course, but there is a surprising connection to Indigo's life as well. In addition to her activism at school, Indigo has to watch her younger brother, who feels misunderstood, and who bonds with a friend's nonbinary older sibling. When all of these issues boil over, will Indigo be able to take comfort from Wells' experiences and be able to continue her work at making a difference?
Strengths: Indigo's interest in investigative journalism is great to see, and makes her chance encounter with writings of Wells even more inspirational. The friend drama is quite on point, and is something my students always are eager to explore. There is a lot of different representation showcased in this book: Black and brown students, LGBTQIA+, mental health, and even a glimpse at a student who is discriminated against because of a police record, although the principal has gotten the wrong student. The letters add a tiny bit of magical realism, but the fantasy element is not too heavy. Indigo's parents are quite interesting, and show up just enough to support her. I'm looking forward to seeing what else Capps writes. 
Weaknesses: There were a number of things that didn't ring quite true to my middle school experience, but I'm sure schools in different areas have different rules. Class elections and student reporters are also not something my school has ever had. 
What I really think: Indigo would be friends with Shayla from Ramee's A Good Kind of Trouble and Neva from Kendall's The True Definition of Neva Beane

As a teacher, I was appalled when Indigo painted the sidewalk, and know that at my school, if white boys were caught putting marker on lockers, they would NOT be let go with a warning. I think that many people don't understand that a lot of school rules that seem arbitrary are in place to keep students safe. It is a security issue to let students in after school detention go to the restroom. There aren't enough people to supervise them, and if they decided to leave the building, the office staff has left and isn't there for backup. When Indigo cuts class, her parents would have gotten panicked calls from school, and there would have been police involved to try to find her. We had a student last year who left school, and the whole staff was on high alert until the police found him and delivered him safely to his parents. I know from personal experience that is is absolutely vital that we know where students are at all times. Students could have seizures in restrooms... so many things could happen, and teachers are responsible for their safety.

No comments:

Post a Comment