Author Brandy Colbert best known for her YA novels The Voting Booth, The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, Little & Lion, Finding Yvonne and soon to be released Black Birds in the Sky has debuted her first middle grade novel The Only Black Girls in Town. Set in the small California surfing town of Ewing Beach, our protagonist Alberta is one of only a few seventh grade black students in her local middle school and while her long-time best friend Laramie is like a sister, there are still some things she doesn’t “get”. To make things more complicated Laramie is striking up a new friendship with the “popular” eighth grader Nicolette McKee, who also just happens to be Alberta’s worst nightmare. So, when the bed and breakfast next door is bought Alberta is of course curious. When she learns the family is black and has a daughter Alberta’s age she is beyond excited. Alberta and Edie (the new girl) soon become friends and of course this leads to misunderstandings and complications with Laramie.
As Alberta and Edie begin to navigate their new friendship they make an unexpected discovery of some long-lost journals in Edie’s new bedroom (the attic of the B&B). The journals belonged to the mysterious Constance. The girls soon begin to try and unravel the mystery of who Constance was and how her journals came to be in the attic of the bed and breakfast?
Against this backdrop the Alberta and Edie deal with microaggressions from classmates, first time crushes, and mean girl culture and begin to understand that while being the only black girls in town can be difficult, life for black people a few decades ago was much more difficult and even dangerous.
I loved The Only Two Black Girls in Town. It surprised me with complicated themes that I did not expect. I highly recommend this book for all middle grade classrooms.
To learn more about author Brandy Colbert visit here.