November 10, 2020

#BookReview: Malcolm and Me by Robin Farmer

Synopsis: Philly native Roberta Forest is a precocious rebel with the soul of a poet. The thirteen-year-old is young, gifted, black, and Catholic—although she’s uncertain about the Catholic part after she calls Thomas Jefferson a hypocrite for enslaving people and her nun responds with a racist insult. Their ensuing fight makes Roberta question God and the important adults in her life, all of whom seem to see truth as gray when Roberta believes it’s black or white.

An upcoming essay contest, writing poetry, and reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X all help Roberta cope with the various difficulties she’s experiencing in her life, including her parent’s troubled marriage. But when she’s told she’s ineligible to compete in the school’s essay contest, her explosive reaction to the news leads to a confrontation with her mother, who shares some family truths Roberta isn’t ready for.

Set against the backdrop of Watergate and the post-civil rights movement era, Angel Dressed in Black is a gritty yet graceful examination of the anguish teens experience when their growing awareness of themselves and the world around them unravels their sense of security—a coming-of-age tale of truth-telling, faith, family, forgiveness, and social activism.


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
My Review: The author does a great job with the struggles in this story. I thought that it felt real and honest and I hope to find another story by Farmer soon.  I know that I fell for Roberta as soon as I started reading.  She had courage that makes this one debut that you can't put down.  


"Farmer brings emotional fidelity to Roberta's struggles, making the girl's growth feel well earned. A celebratory coming-of-age novel with a thoughtful, resilient heroine."

"Farmer has created a timely and relevant story, peopled with realistic characters. Many readers will discover much about themselves alongside Roberta as they travel with her on her journey of self-discovery. We need more characters--in books and in real life--as strong and as willing to speak up as Roberta is."
--Padma Venkatraman, award-winning author of The Bridge Home

"Readers will root for Roberta as she musters the courage to take a stand in this unflinching debut set in 1973 Philadelphia. Rich and poignant, funny and blasphemous, Malcolm and Me reveals how relevant Malcolm X's words remain today."
--Anne Westrick, author of Brotherhood

"Historically rich and movingly told, Malcolm and Me is a striking debut. You'll root for its whip-smart protagonist, Roberta, at every turn as she explores familial scars, interrogates religious trappings, and awakens to her voice and power. Though set in the 1970s, this book speaks directly to today's spirit of protest and our reckoning with the mores and monuments of old."
--Maya Smart, writer and literary advocate 

"From her electric opening, Farmer gifts us a story so necessary and so compelling, I found myself weeping for the 13 year old girl inside of me who didn't get to read this stunning novel. Roberta is witty and bright and perfect in all the imperfect ways of a new teen who cannot help but to impetuously react to a world she cannot control. Farmer delivers a smart and timeless story that brilliantly captures the teenage angst of not only 1970s America but of today, while managing to offer laughter and love in equal measure."
--Lauren Francis-Sharma, author of 'Til the Well Runs Dry and Book of the Little Axe

"Tender, humorous, and timely, Malcolm and Me--Robin Farmer's engaging debut--perfectly captures the confusion, pain, and joy of a young teen becoming conscious of her racial identity and injustice. Farmer's thirteen-year-old Roberta is a winning protagonist whose story will grab your heart. What a talented, fresh new voice Farmer is!" 
--Heidi W. Durrow, New York Times best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

About the Author

Robin Farmer is a national award–winning journalist and transplanted Philadelphian who currently calls the Richmond, VA, area home. At eight, she told her mother she would write for a living, and she is grateful that her younger self knew what she was talking about (many young folks do). Her other interests include screenwriting, poetry, movies, and traveling. She’s still hoping to write stories about young people for television and film. Robin earned her degree in journalism from Marquette University. She lives in Richmond, VA.

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