Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard

Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. Jan. 2020. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250309853.
Gr 9 Up–Echo Brown is a dark-skinned African American girl who comes from an impoverished and dysfunctional family on the East Side of Cleveland. Her mother, April (Aprah), is addicted to crack, stemming from childhood sexual abuse and an accidental tragedy. Her stepfather, Ed, is addicted to alcohol. Her brothers, Rone and Dre, are addicted to the streets. To cope with intergenerational pain and trauma, Echo believes she and her mother are wizards. With the help of other female wizards, she transfers from one portal to another in a rich, white school on the West Side to finally heal and break generational curses. Debut author Brown crafts this empowering autobiographical novel fused with magical realism and allegory. She provides lessons of wizard training in every chapter. Readers, especially sci-fi/fantasy fans, will be mesmerized by the intersections in her parallel universes. Brown brilliantly charts her journey from a victim of her circumstances to a freshman at Dartmouth College. She succeeds against the odds of racism, colorism, poverty, sexual abuse, addiction, depression, sexism, and misogyny as an African American girl. Readers will appreciate the power of literature as a healing tool with the nods to Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, and Alice Walker.
VERDICT This revelatory YA book deserves space on bookstore and library shelves for its healing power for all readers to break the chains of intergenerational pain and trauma.

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