Cover image for For black girls like me
Title:
For black girls like me
ISBN:
9780374308049
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
321 pages ; 22 cm.
Geographic Term:
Summary:
Makeda June Kirkland is eleven years old, adopted, and black. Her parents and big sister are white, and even though she loves her family very much, Makeda often feels left out. When Makeda's family moves from Maryland to New Mexico, she leaves behind her best friend, Lena?the only other adopted black girl she knows?for a new life. In New Mexico, everything is different. At home, Makeda?s sister is too cool to hang out with her anymore and at school, she can?t seem to find one real friend. Through it all, Makeda can?t help but wonder: What would it feel like to grow up with a family that looks like me?
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Summary

Summary

I am a girl but most days I feel like a question mark.Makeda June Kirkland is eleven-years-old, adopted, and black. Her parents and big sister are white, and even though she loves her family very much, Makeda often feels left out. When Makeda's family moves from Maryland to New Mexico, she leaves behind her best friend, Lena--the only other adopted black girl she knows--for a new life. In New Mexico, everything is different. At home, Makeda's sister is too cool to hang out with her anymore and at school, she can't seem to find one true friend. Through it all, Makeda can't help wondering: What would it feel like to grow up with a family that looks like me?Through singing, dreaming, and writing secret messages back and forth with Lena, Makeda might just carve a small place for herself in the world.


Author Notes

Mariama J. Lockington is an adoptee, writer, and nonprofit educator. She has been telling stories and making her own books since the second grade, when she wore short-alls and flower leggings every day to school. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines and journals, including Buzzfeed News Reader, and she is the author of the poetry chapbook The Lucky Daughter. Mariama holds a master's in Education from Lesley University and master's in fine arts in poetry from San Francisco State University. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her partner and dapple haired dachshund, Henry.


Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3--7--Makeda loves her parents and sister, but that doesn't make her feel any less different. A 12-year old transracial adoptee, Keda is all too familiar with the confused stares and intrusive questions of people who don't understand a Black girl with a white family. Her dad's new job takes them from Baltimore to Albuquerque, NM, bringing with it a new school with new kids and leaving behind Lena, Keda's best friend and fellow transracial adoptee who understands her struggles. Keda's sister Elle seems to be more into boys and magazines than spending time with her nowadays, and mom is acting more unpredictable than ever, sleeping all day or shredding her sheet music from her bygone violinist career. When a family tragedy shakes up her whole life, Makeda discovers a well of strength from which she must draw every ounce. Lockington's middle grade debut is a gorgeous, tender depiction of a young Black girl seeking the space to thrive. The abundant microaggressions and overt racism Keda faces from her classmates, teachers, and even her parents sting in their authenticity. The depiction of a parent's suicide attempt is not graphic, but may benefit from being discussed with a trusted adult. The narrative is interspersed with poetic, dreamy ruminations on Keda's place in the world and the lineage that has seemed lost to her for so long. The versatility of its style and structure means this novel could be used in many group discussions centering topics from transracial adoption to genre-blending literature. VERDICT An essential purchase for all collections.--Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal


Publisher's Weekly Review

In this outstanding middle grade debut (told without commas in a mix of narration, letters, and poetry), Lockington (The Lucky Daughter for adults) introduces budding poet Makeda Kirkland, 11, a black girl adopted by a white family. Her cellist father and former violin prodigy mother move their family from Baltimore to Albuquerque, forcing Keda to leave behind her best friend, Lena, the only other black girl she knows with a mixed adoptive family like her own. While struggling to cope with racism at school, Keda, along with big sister Eve, is left to care for their increasingly erratic mother after their father goes on tour abroad. Keda's persistent dreams of her birth mother and a family with skin that looks like hers collide with the unsettling reality of her mother's mental illness and the frightening possibility that the only mother she's ever known could be lost. With intimate authenticity, she explores how fierce but "colorblind" familial love can result in erasure and sensitively delineates the pain of facing casual racism, as well as the disconcerting experience of being the child of a mentally ill parent. Age 8-12. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

A transracial adoptee navigates a new school, a mentally ill parent, and questions about her identity.Eleven-year-old Keda, who is black and was adopted as an infant, has just moved to Albuquerque with her parents and older sister, Eve, leaving her best friend (and fellow black adoptee), Lena, behind. At school and around town, Keda knows she sticks out like a sore thumb next to her white family. When her musician father leaves for a world tour, Keda and Eve are left with their mother, whose undiagnosed, unmanaged bipolar disorder is spiraling out of control. The portrayal of their mother's disability is moving, but stylistic choices make the novel a difficult one to navigate, particularly for a middle-grade audience. Letters between Lena and Keda (both handwritten and in the form of Tumblr posts) and sporadic free-verse chapters break up Keda's first-person account, but the latter have an arbitrary rather than organic feel. On a sentence level, Lockington has such an aversion to commas that dialogue tags appear not to be attached to the speech they reference; asides, addresses, and appositives feel jumbled inside sentences; and list items aren't separated. An overreliance on sentence fragments causes them to lose any dramatic effect. From a characterization standpoint, aside from family members, too many others come across as straw men, walking onstage to hurl a racist slur and then vanishing from the narrative.The myriad themes explored are compelling, but the execution gets in the way. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Eleven-year-old Keda is a Black adoptee to white parents. After her family moves from Baltimore to Albuquerque, she struggles with changing schools and leaving behind her best friend, Lena, who was also adopted into a mixed family. Keda's daily life is filled with indignities from her adoptive family, hate speech from classmates, and microaggressions toward her skin, hair, and white mannerisms. When her father leaves town to go on tour, Keda and her sister are left to care for their mentally ill mother, even as Keda dreams of her birth mother and what life might have been like with family members who looked the same as her. In this #OwnVoices middle-grade debut, Lockington captures the joy and angst of transracial adoption. Keda's first-person narration is broken up by material in various formats including handwritten letters (to Lena), emails, poetry, and Tumblr posts. The result is an authentic and intimate portrayal with themes of identity, mental health, education, and family. Any Black girl struggling to navigate a white family will find comfort in chapter headings such as Questions I Have for Black Girls like Me. This is a necessary read for girls struggling with identity and purpose within their families, as well as a powerful coming-of-age story of Black womanhood.--Jessica Anne Bratt Copyright 2019 Booklist