The only black girls in town

Brandy Colbert

Book - 2020

In a predominately white California beach town, the only two black seventh-graders, Alberta and Edie, find hidden journals that uncover family secrets and speak to race relations in the past.

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New York ; Boston : Little, Brown and Company 2020.
Main Author
Brandy Colbert (author)
First edition
Physical Description
355 pages ; 20 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

A remarkable middle-grade debut from YA powerhouse Colbert (Little & Lion, 2017), The Only Black Girls in Town is a window into the heart and mind of Alberta, the sole African American girl in her small beach town's seventh grade until another Black family moves in across the street. Although she and her new neighbor could not be any more superficially different--Alberta is a California surfer and Edie is a goth girl from Brooklyn--they bond over their racial "otherness" in a realistic way. Being two of the few Black students in their school (a true-to-life representation of the microaggressions they experience is highlighted by a teacher calling Edie by Alberta's name, although they look nothing alike) brings the girls closer together, while navigating their middle-school dramas and changing family dynamics seems to drive them apart. Fortunately, a desire to uncover the identity of the author of a set of journals they find in Edie's home helps to keep their friendship from completely fracturing, and conflicts are resolved in a reasonable yet satisfying way. Several events central to Black history (the murder of Emmett Till and the Montgomery bus boycott, for example) are introduced without the story becoming didactic, adding depth to a sweet story featuring children of color trying to find their place in a society that tells them they do not fit. Strongly recommended for children's collections.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Twelve-year-old surfing fanatic Alberta has lived in Ewing Beach, Calif., with her fathers for much of her life. Her family is one of the only black families in town, until the Whitmans buy the old bed and breakfast across the street. Goth Edie, the same age as Alberta, is nothing like her. She's a proud Brooklyn native; she wears all black, down to the black lipstick she's never without; and she doesn't understand why everyone in Ewing loves the beach. And while Edie's parents are divorcing, Alberta's dads remain deeply in love. Despite their differences, the two become fast friends just as Alberta's lifelong best friend, who is white, begins drifting toward the popular girl who has bullied Alberta with racist taunts for years. When Alberta and Edie find a set of mysterious journals in Edie's new house, they also uncover an enduring secret. Imperfect, vulnerable characters take center stage in Colbert's middle grade debut about growing up on the margins in the past and present. Colbert employs a compulsively readable style to convey the sometimes difficult experience of young friendship, and the power and peril of claiming one's identity out loud. Ages 8--12. Agent: Tina Dubois, ICM Partners. (Mar.)

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Review by Horn Book Review

Since they moved there when she was two, rising seventh grader Alberta and her dads have been one of the few Black families in Ewing Beach, California. Her mean-girl neighbor, Nicolette, wont let her forget it. Its just that youre, like, different. Her best friend Laramie doesnt consider it. Youre just you...I dont really think about you being black. When Edie and her mom move in across the street, Alberta is excited that there will be another Black girl her age in town, especially as her friendship with Laramie is being tested (by Nicolette). Edie discovers some old journals in her attic bedroom, and she and Alberta quickly become wrapped up in trying to figure out who the author, Constance, was and how her journals ended up there. Several chapters include Constances journal entries, allowing readers to share in the mystery with Alberta and Edie. Albertas authentic-sounding struggles with race, friendship, family, and belonging are very much a part of the middle-school experience. Many readers will easily relate to Alberta -- and will enjoy the additional narrative layer of solving the mystery of Constance. Nicholl Denice Montgomery July/August 2020 p.135(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A new neighbor brings change and mystery to rising seventh grader Alberta Freeman-Price.Despite the fact that Alberta and her dads are some of the small number of black people in Ewing Beach, California, Alberta leads a pretty chill life, surfing and eating ice cream with her best friend, Laramie. Then the bed-and-breakfast across the street is taken over by new neighbors from New York, a black single mom and her goth daughter, Edie. The fact that Edie is black fuses the bond between the two. When Edie discovers mysterious journals in the attic of the BB, she shares them with Alberta. The author of the journals was Constance, a young woman who apparently worked as a nanny in the building during the 1950s. The girls' obsession with the journals combines with their emerging friendship to cause Alberta to feel torn between Laramie, who is white, and Edie. While Alberta and Edie juggle the awkward, sometimes-painful dynamics of middle school friendships, bullies, and racism, their research into the journals leads the girls to a discovery of family and racial dynamics that transcends time. Colbert's middle-grade debut, centering black girls who represent a range of experiences, deserves a standing ovation. Alberta's narration is perceptive and accessible as she navigates race in America in the past and present.A heartfelt tale with classy, indelible characters. (Fiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.