Published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Summary: Makeda (Keda for short) is struggling with many different issues after her family moves from Maryland to New Mexico. She’s left behind Lena, her best friend and the only other black girl she knows who was adopted by white parents. Her parents’ relationship is strained; her father is often away performing with his symphony, and her mother’s behavior is increasingly erratic. When her mom gets mad at the school over a racist incident involving Keda, she pulls her and her older sister out to homeschool, making both girls feel more isolated than ever. Things finally come to a head when a spontaneous trip to Boulder results in a crisis that forces the whole family to make some significant changes. The ending is hopeful for all four of the family members, although without any guaranteed happily-ever-after. 336 pages; grades 5-7.
Pros: Keda’s perspective on race is a unique one in the world of children’s literature, and she deals with all kinds of issues, from skin and hair care to subtle and more blatant racism from her friends and family members. A good mirror and window for readers to learn more about families that include interracial adoptions.
Cons: I wanted to love this book more than I did. The mom was a stereotype of a clueless white liberal, and her mental illness overwhelmed the racial issues as the story went on. Also, some language and the free verse and unique punctuation styles make this book difficult to recommend for elementary–yet Keda is only 11, so her story may not appeal to older middle school readers.