Dove “Birdie” Randolph is a 16-year-old black girl working to figure out family, love, and what she really wants in life.
The Chicago high school sophomore lives with her mother and father in their apartment above her mother’s hair salon; her sister, Mimi, is away at college. Dove’s parents have her on a strict academic schedule, and Dove faces a summer constrained by rules with little room for socializing except with her best friend, Lazarus “Laz” Ramos. Recently Dove began sneaking out to see Booker Stratton, a boy she’s grown to really like but who has a past her parents would not approve of. Into this setting comes her Aunt Carlene, her mom’s sister, who has been rarely seen and even less frequently spoken about. Carlene, an addict who has spent much of her life in and out of rehab, moves in with Dove and her parents, bringing tension into the family, although Dove soon develops a warm connection with her. The exposure of a family secret threatens to derail the tenuous balance. Colbert (Finding Yvonne, 2018, etc.) pens an emotionally gripping tale about family and young love and how they can be your entire world while still being worlds apart. The treatment of topics such as the impact of addiction, racial profiling and discrimination, and sexuality (Mimi and Laz are queer) is skillful and will resonate.
Moving and memorable. (Fiction. 13-adult)