The Only Black Girls in Town

Little, Brown. Mar. 2020. 368p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316456388.
Gr 3-7–Alberta is a 13-year-old African American girl who loves surfing, vegetarian food, and her two dads. She does not love being the only African American girl in town, or the fact that her best friend Laramie is befriending her frenemy, Natalie. Initially, Alberta is thrilled to learn another Black family has moved in across the street—but when she meets new neighbor Edie, they seem to have more differences than commonalities. Brooklyn-born Edie likes coffee, black lipstick, and Edgar Allan Poe, whereas Alberta prefers board shorts and hanging out at the beach. But what starts as a rocky connection solidifies into friendship as the two girls bond over shared identities and solve a mystery that they uncover in the journals in Edie’s attic. Alberta’s friendship with Laramie seems to falter as she gets closer to Edie, but the girls become more flexible in their evolving friendship and grow. Eventually, Alberta learns how to balance sustaining old relationships with building new ones, and realizes she can stand up for herself.
VERDICT A nuanced novel that skillfully depicts the ways friendships can be shaped by common experience and racial proximity. Purchase Colbert’s heartfelt middle grade debut for all public and school libraries.

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