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IN THE KEY OF US by Mariama J. Lockington Kirkus Star


by Mariama J. Lockington

Pub Date: April 26th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-374-31410-1
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Following her mother’s death, rising eighth grader Andrea “Andi” Byrd is grieving and missing the trust and independence her artist mother afforded her.

Living in a new town with her Aunt Janine and Uncle Mark, who are expecting their first child, Andi feels like she’s in the way of their growing family and has lost the magic she once felt when playing the trumpet. When her aunt and uncle suggest she attend a prestigious summer music camp—with uniforms, a no-cellphone policy, and mostly White campers—she’s sure that going is a mistake. However, soon she finds friendship with Christopher Flores, a quirky Filipino American logophile who is harboring family secrets and trauma of his own. She also meets Zora Johnson, a flutist and the only other Black girl there. Zora seemingly couldn’t be more different: Her clothes are sparkly, and she’s bubbly and groomed for perfection by her high-achieving parents. But beneath her extroverted veneer, Zora has her own dreams and desires that diverge from her parents’ plans. Over time, the girls come to realize how much they have in common. Told in Andi’s and Zora’s alternating perspectives, the well-paced coming-of-age narrative is sprinkled with contemporary references that bolster its authenticity as it sensitively explores topics such as racism and self-harm and offers a touching portrayal of young queer love. An author’s note includes mental health resources for Black women and girls and LGBTQ+ youth.

Vivid writing and relatable characters make this a worthwhile read.

(Fiction. 10-14)