Alberta’s life is pretty sweet. Her surfing improves every time she hits the water, she’s got two supportive dads in her corner, and her best friend has a free cone connection at the ice cream parlor. But she still feels like something is missing. She’s being bullied at school, dealing with dumb assumptions from her classmates and weathering insults from her nemesis. It’s hard to not feel isolated when everyone singles her out for being different.
Then Alberta discovers that the new owner of a nearby bed-and-breakfast has a 12-year-old daughter who is also black, and Alberta thinks she’s found her missing piece. Edie is cool—like, from-Brooklyn cool—and they hit it off. When Edie finds a stack of journals in the B&B’s attic, the girls start reading and eventually uncover a historical mystery. As it turns out, they may have roots hidden in more places than they realized.
Award-winning young adult author Brandy Colbert (Little & Lion) makes her middle grade debut with The Only Black Girls in Town. As she does in her books for older readers, she creates characters readers will love spending time with and settings that reward exploration. She also sensitively handles issues of growing up and and growing apart, as well as parents who seem overprotective but may have good cause to care. Colbert’s light touch with weighty subjects results in a novel that dives deep into the impacts of racism, particularly microagressions, with subtlety and nuance.
Equal parts mystery, coming-of-age narrative and coastal California travelogue, The Only Black Girls in Town is an affectionate tribute to friends, both new and old, and the ways they enrich our lives.