by Varian Johnson, published 2018.
“It wasn’t surprising that Siobhan Washington became a librarian. She grew up surrounded by books, spending just as much time in her school library as she did on the tennis courts. “
This is a fascinating blend of African-American history, a puzzle, and good friendship. The main protagonist, a young girl, is on the search for a treasure that their grandmother had failed to find. She’s helped by a new friend across the street, who’s grandfather thinks he is too ‘girlish.’ Add to that the complications of being with parents getting divorced, being in a new city, and this story has a little bit of something for everyone.
At first, I was having a hard time tracking who all the characters were, as they are not that well developed, in comparison to the lead characters. But after a while, I actually didn’t care if I knew who was who, because the intrigue in trying to solve the grandmother’s mystery kept me going. There are many references to the Westing Game, a popular children’s book that requires solving a puzzle as well. I think kids who love unravelling puzzles will enjoy this. It’s also a wonderful homage to the courage of African-Americans who overcame so much prejudice and challenges in order to be accepted. I would love every child to read this, regardless of their race, to see the challenges that minorities experience on a daily basis, and the glory of overcoming real obstacles.