*Starred 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. Grades 4-7. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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 2019 Publishers Weekly.
School Library Journal Reviews
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
Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.
Eleven-year-old Makeda dreams of meeting her African American mother, while coping with serious problems in her white adopted family, a cross-country move, and being homeschooled. - (Baker & Taylor)
A lyrical story inspired by the author’s own life finds an African American adoptee into a white family exploring the complexities of family, race, sisterhood and belonging. A first novel by the author of The Lucky Daughter. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)
A debut middle grade novel about an African American girl who was adopted into a white family. This lyrical and personal story—inspired by the author's own life— explores the complexities of family, race, sisterhood, and belonging. - (McMillan Palgrave)
In this lyrical coming-of-age story about family, sisterhood, music, race, and identity, Mariama J. Lockington draws on some of the emotional truths from her own experiences growing up with an adoptive white family.
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 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?
Through singing, dreaming, and writing secret messages back and forth with Lena, Makeda might just carve a small place for herself in the world.
For Black Girls Like Me is for anyone who has ever asked themselves: How do you figure out where you are going if you don’t know where you came from?
- (McMillan Palgrave