Malou always wondered who her parents were and how she came to be the only colored girl at the small-town orphanage.
When a fire destroys the group home and forces her to leave the girls who were like her sisters, Malou follows a clue to Parry Sound, Ontario, where she might find the truth and a new family. Part of the Secrets series, this historical novel by Jocelyn explores racial identity, prejudice, and the meaning of family through 16-year-old Malou’s journal-style entries. Malou’s innocent and optimistic voice adds levity to what could have been a heavy narrative. She encounters prejudice both as an orphan and because of her dark skin. However, most of her context for racial injustice comes from following news from the United States. Set in 1964, the book refers to the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Unfortunately, there are few references to Black Canadian historical events, an oddity given the book’s focus on Malou’s background; it’s Malou's interactions with the racially diverse group of people she meets during her search that are the novel’s real strength. Learning about their varying perspectives is as eye-opening for Malou as discovering her own history.
A fresh coming-of-age tale with an unconventional twist. (Historical fiction. 13-17)