The Voting Booth

Disney-Hyperion. Jul. 2020. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781368053297.
Gr 7-10–In Colbert’s latest novel, a cast of warmly realized characters tell the story of a seemingly mundane moment in time—two teens voting for the first time. Marva Sheridan is beyond excited about her first election day while Duke Crenshaw can’t wait to get it over with. Unfortunately for him, voting ends up being a lot more challenging than he ever expected. As the day creeps on, he and Marva have to work together to make Duke’s vote count. Along the way, they realize their chemistry is undeniable. Marva and Duke are beautifully rendered over the course of this book, showing their progression from strangers to something more than friends. Their story is crafted to appear small at first—a tale told around a single voting booth—but as readers learn more, they will begin to understand how both characters are affected by much larger structures: rigged elections, educational inequities, violence, grief, and more. Colbert addresses these themes in ways that are both true to the characters and resonant with current discussions about the ways that social, economic, and racial barriers shape our lives. Marva and Duke are lovable in their own right but their story usefully shows how determination and ingenuity have the potential to produce real-world change.
VERDICT Recommended for readers who enjoy character-driven romance with real-world resonance.

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