The only time 13-year-old Sophie can relax is when her alcoholic mother, Janet, finally falls into bed asleep.
Sometimes Janet is happy, dancing and singing through the apartment. Other times she is angry and violent. After a particularly bad episode, Sophie returns from school to find Janet, a freelance fashion journalist, packing for an extended trip to Paris. Auntie Amara, with her dreadlocks and music, comes to stay in their quiet Brooklyn home. At first, Sophie feels suffocated by the attention. But trips to her aunt’s church, a session at a local beauty salon, and long talks over steaming bowls of spicy stew encourage Sophie to relax. With her mother gone, Sophie has the space to consider who she wants to be. A light-skinned black girl with a French father and her mother’s sense of fashion, Sophie is pretty. But a school project makes her consider the real meaning of beauty, and it is nothing like what she finds in Janet’s fashion magazines. As he did in Husky (2015), Sayre once again proves that he understands the complexity of growing up. His confident story tackles race, sexuality, wealth, beauty, and faith as he revisits the characters and Brooklyn location of his first novel. This will encourage readers to press in to the difficult questions and look for the truth beneath.
Coming-of-age never looked so beautiful. (Fiction. 10-14)