Is co-opting a persona or a culture that’s not one’s own ever OK—even when given permission to do so?
Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Coretta White starts her Tumblr, Little White Lies, to vent some redirected aggression against her parents’ opinions about politics and life. As the blog swells in popularity, Coretta collapses from her “teen-on-the-go” responsibilities of keeping up with her schoolwork, after-school activities, and social media–mediated social life. She gains respect from her popular “black Ken doll” boyfriend, Mike Cornelius, his “very prominent African-American venture capitalist” parents, and her peers, but she feels her friendship slipping with her best friend, Rachel Berstein. Exhausted, Coretta confesses to Rachel that, as much as she loves blogging, she can’t maintain it. Rachel helps out, and through a mysterious family connection, she brings in professional ghostwriter Karl Ristoff, a “middle-aged white man,” to take over writing the blog just as Coretta is offered a chance at her own TV show. And Karl does—almost too well and with some nasty ethical repercussions. Authors Baker and Hastie tell a jovial-enough yarn about an innocent-enough racial, gender, and age ventriloquism act that goes humiliatingly awry. But, like too many adults writing fiction for teens, they try too hard to be hilariously hip, and it shows.
As the kids say nowadays, that’s not OK. (Fiction. 14-18)