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THE BRAID GIRLS by Sherri Winston


by Sherri Winston

Pub Date: June 13th, 2023
ISBN: 9780316461610
Publisher: Little, Brown

A tween in Jacksonville, Florida, worries about changes in her closest friendship.

Daija and Maggie are best friends, two Black girls with plans to turn their hair-braiding skills into a summer business. Things become complicated with the arrival of Maggie’s new half sister, Callie; Callie’s White mom had kept her existence a secret from Maggie’s dad until just before her death. Maggie’s close-knit family absorbs their new addition, but there’s naturally some tension. Meanwhile, Daija desperately needs Braid Girls to succeed so she can afford private ballet lessons. The girls incorporate their braiding business into their duties as junior counselors at a local day camp and get off to a great start—until girls from another camp set up a rival business and try to steal their clients. This adversity, along with Daija’s worries about money and her place in Maggie’s life, creates a rift, revealing personality differences the friends had ignored. But they eventually realize their different ways of handling things can make them a stronger unit. In addition to the centrality of friendship in the lives of middle schoolers, the family connections are richly portrayed. Daija’s drive to prove herself to her father, now remarried, is always on her mind; Maggie’s need to play peacemaker is perceived as a weakness; and Callie puts on a brave face while mourning her mom. The story is told in the three girls’ alternating voices, and the supporting adult characters add realistic texture.

An enjoyable story with lively and engaging protagonists.

(Fiction. 8-12)