Thursday, August 22, 2019

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi: Review

MY LIFE AS AN ICE CREAM SANDWICH is a unique take on what it's like for a young Black girl who would rather live in her imagination than in reality to be uprooted from all that she knows and finds comfortable to be put in situations that are unfamiliar, uncomfortable,  and at times overwhelming. Ebony-Grace is faced with the mysterious trouble that her grandfather finds himself in and like many children she is left to only guess and piece together what that trouble is instead of being told by an adult in a way that she could understand. Since she is already extremely introverted and feels more comfortable retreating into her own imagination, it's no surprise that the way she copes with stress is to disassociate from all of the new strangeness by going into a world of her own making.

 Ebony-Grace is socially awkward and the way in which she copes is maybe a bit more intense but not to the point where she isn't reachable. Ebony-Grace is a child who handles things in an age appropriate way. I'm happy that Zoboi chose not to make Ebony-Grace behave and react in a way that would suggest that she is more mature and worldly than a 7th grader should be. Black children are not inherently 'grown' by virtue of their blackness. Letting Ebony-Grace be first and foremost a child with childish behavior is, at least for me, a positive in this story not a negative character flaw of a child who hasn't even hit puberty yet.

Zoboi's writing is atmospheric. She incorporates 1980's pop culture in an engaging and enjoyable way. I'm not sure how well today's middle grader will get the Star Trek references, but I enjoyed them. I will also say that this cover, the story, and the idea of a little Black girl dreaming of a world among the stars where she can be the problem solver and not the problem is something that I am more than happy to have experienced. I will be buying a finished copy for my 10 year old niece. 

***I received an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.***

Twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet has lived with her beloved grandfather Jeremiah in Huntsville, Alabama ever since she was little. As one of the first black engineers to integrate NASA, Jeremiah has nurtured Ebony-Grace’s love for all things outer space and science fiction—especially Star Wars and Star Trek. But in the summer of 1984, when trouble arises with Jeremiah, it’s decided she’ll spend a few weeks with her father in Harlem.

Harlem is an exciting and terrifying place for a sheltered girl from Hunstville, and Ebony-Grace’s first instinct is to retreat into her imagination. But soon 126th Street begins to reveal that it has more in common with her beloved sci-fi adventures than she ever thought possible, and by summer's end, Ebony-Grace discovers that Harlem has a place for a girl whose eyes are always on the stars.

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