Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
New Jersey high school senior Simone Thibodeaux, 18, wants to live life on her own terms, but it's an uphill battle against her strict Haitian immigrant parents. Determined to enjoy her final year at her Catholic all-girls' high school, she recruits Indian American lab partner Amita Nadar, and white Kira Gifford, the victim of a media frenzy surrounding her family. Together, they create a joint bucket list called Senior Playlist, plotting how they'll help each other achieve every item before graduation. After witnessing her parents pick her sister's Haitian American prom date, Simone vehemently refuses to date his younger brother, Ben. Though the connection between them slowly grows, Simone's biggest concern is getting her crush, Gavin Stackhouse, to notice her. As Simone tries to find herself, she also draws closer to her Haitian identity. Rigaud (Truly Madly Royally) infuses a delightfully funny narrative with a diaspora-specific lesson--Simone learning to value the sacrifices of her immigrant parents--within a universally relatable tale of seeking oneself and independence amid warm relationships with family, friends, and community. Ages 12--up. Agent: Laura Dail, Laura Dail Literary. (June)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 6 Up--High school senior Simone Thibodeaux has always played by her parents' rules--whether she wanted to or not. With a perfect older sister not offering much help rebellion-wise, and as graduation--and more importantly, prom--looms, Simone joins with two friends with similarly strict parents and the trio composes a senior year bucket list to help them finally let loose. From cutting class to clubbing, these New Jersey teens bond over their families' loving but tight holds. Simone's main obsession--getting a prom date--eclipses her other plans as she attempts to avoid the (admittedly cute) setup her mom has arranged. This romp through New Jersey is a lighthearted peek into Haitian American life, as Simone deals with her protective mother and the rest of her family, all well-drawn, nuanced, multidimensional characters. In particular, Simone's dynamic with her mother and sister crackles with realism, humor, and affection. Some of the back-and-forth of prom date switches slows down the plot, but ultimately teens will enjoy this fun family story. VERDICT Fans of Jenny Han and Brandy Colbert will find much to cheer about in this entertaining and charming novel.--Elissa Bongiorno, Washington, DC
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
New Jersey high school seniors make an attempt at rebellion before graduation. Simone Thibodeaux wants to choose her own date for the prom and to live on campus during college. And while those two things might not seem like a big deal for some high school seniors, they are when your parents are strict Haitian immigrants. Simone attends an all-girls Catholic school, has a curfew, and isn't allowed to date until college. While she has been responsible, focusing all her energy on academics, even getting into Rutgers via early decision doesn't persuade her parents that living away from home is a good idea. Their plan is for her to follow in her sister's footsteps and suffer the embarrassment of a preselected date for prom (a boy from a nice Haitian family, of course) and commute to Rutgers. Simone joins forces with two classmates who also have overprotective parents--one the daughter of Indian immigrants and one a White girl whose family was targeted on social media--to create a senior year bucket list and claim some level of independence. Baseball-loving Simone is a wonderfully crafted character, and Rigaud uses the awkwardness of the late bloomers' attempts to be cool with perfect comedic timing. This is a great depiction of Haitian American culture that both affirms and informs. Offering a steady mix of romance and humor, this is a home run. (Fiction. 12-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.