Colbert, Brandy. Voting Booth, The. Fiction. Disney/Hyperion, 07/2020. 304pp. $18.99. 978-1-368-05329-7. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 9-12.
Set over the course of Election Day 2020, this delightful two-hander starts when activist Marva (described as having dark brown skin) and biracial musician Duke, both 18, meet at a polling station. Over the course of the day, as Marva helps Duke get to vote and they look for Marva’s lost cat, social media celebrity Eartha Kitty, the author skillfully builds her characters. They are an attractive couple, and it’s no surprise that after Marva’s initial decision to help Duke vote, their political dedication and commitment helps their relationship to develop quickly. Though this presents as a smooth and easy romance, it’s something of a Trojan horse (in a good way!). Inside the charming exterior, the author doesn’t let the reader off the hook: the injustices against people of color and women are central to her characters’ passionate belief in the crucial need to vote to get change. The novel is apolitical in the sense that politicians and parties are not named although it is clear where the author’s sympathies lie, and it should encourage a few readers to get out there and take their place in the democratic process. Review based on an ARC.
Hayley Beale, San Francisco University High School