Stepsisters Naomi E. and Naomi Marie face many changes and challenges in their multiracial, blended family life in this sequel to Two Naomis (2016).
Having the same first name is the least of their challenges. Naomi E. and her father are white; Naomi Marie, her mother, and her younger sister are black. All of them are very intentional about making their new blended family work. But as the Naomis struggle to adjust to their family life, they must also find their places as new sixth graders at a nontraditional school located in a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. “Big family, new house, little privacy”—Naomi E.’s six-word memoir for her creative-writing assignment—captures how she’s feeling. And to make matters worse, she worries that her father and stepmother expect her to be as academically confident and self-assured as Naomi Marie. Meanwhile, Naomi Marie faces racism at their supposedly progressive school, and she’s frustrated that Naomi E. doesn’t understand how she’s feeling. Issues of identity, social justice, and race are explored with sensitivity and a deep understanding of the interior lives of middle school girls. At times a little too heavy on the girls’ emotional processing of their experiences, the story nonetheless offers a realistic portrait of the kinds of uncomfortable and thoughtful conversations about family, community, social justice, and privilege that many young people are having—or should be having—with their families and friends.
A sequel that packs as much heart, humor, and understanding as the first. (Fiction. 8-12)