- Ibi Zoboi
- Debut Middle Grade, 3rd Published Novel; Book 1 of 2
- Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
- Heritage: Haitian-American (*waves Haitian Flag*)
- IG: @ibizoboi; www.ibizoboi.net
- Release date: 8/27/2019 (gon’ on and get this book!)
- Publisher: Penguin Random House
- Favorite Character: Ebony Grace also known as Cadet E-Grace Starfleet *Salutes*. I think she is dope and I loved how she let things roll off of her shoulders but also attempts to remind people of themselves/the person she knew in a positive light. She wanted to be a little girl & maintain her imagination station and she did…she dared to dream and dreamed really big!
- Favorite quote: “Still, I don’t trust all that laughing and fun because ain’t nothing funny about No Joke City! “It’s a trap,” I whisper to myself.”-Ebony Grace talking about NYC (and she’s right). “I used a Jedi mind trick to sneak past the Funkazoids standing guard and make my way into the empty kitchen where our lunch plates are still on the table. Momma won’t be able to see how I didn’t clean up after myself, and Daddy doesn’t seem to care.”-EG…I love her stealth modes and her reasoning is totally what I would’ve come up with at her age.
I have to open this by saying that I’m a fan of Ibi Zoboi. It is because of her book American Street, that I was able to see a part of myself in a book since the main character is Haitian (which if you read my post about Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, you’ll recall that that means a lot to me) and that was (still is) a big deal for me. If you haven’t read American Street (or Pride where the main character is Haitian & Dominican), you need to fix that ASAP! Ibi is a dope writer and I’m grateful for the day I decided to pick up her book at Barnes & Noble on Court Street in Brooklyn (Brooklyn Stand Up! It’s one of the locations I frequent *Shrugs*…Judge Me If You Want).
When I started My Life As An Ice Cream Sandwich, I didn’t know what to expect but I was already down for whatever path Ibi was going to take me on. Just look at the cover, it’s dreamy and full of #BlackGirlMagic! Ebony Grace, Also Known As E-Grace or EG is a peculiar kind of girl but in the best of ways. She is intelligent, quirky, strong-willed, active in her imagination (her imagination station), loyal and is all about outer space. While I’m not a trekky like Ebony is, as a big Harry Potter/Wizarding World fan (I have been since freshman year of high school), I could relate to the love that she has for the vastness of space, the world/story that she and her grandfather created around it and how dedicated she was to it. She didn’t allow people’s comments about her impact her in a devastating way, she remained true to herself the entire time (#ShoutOut to her Uncle Rich for acknowledging her uniqueness in a positive way). Ebony held fast to her dreams and I appreciated that because too often, brown girls and boys dreams are too quickly snatched from them & other matters are shoved in their faces and down their throats. E-Grace dared to dream and it didn’t matter to her if others joined in or approved of said dream. I also love that her grandfather was a big contributor to her imagination & dreams.
One of the biggest things I related to in this story is her relationship with/closeness to her grandfather. This aspect was really personal to me since my grandpa is the reason I have such a love for reading, libraries, history (he’s a retired librarian) and he even taught me Ballet when I was younger (he’s a classical music and Ballet enthusiast). Like E-Grace’s grandpa, my grandpa told me stories and encouraged my sense of exploration & imagination. I loved their connection and how she would reach for her grandpa, whether it was over the phone or through her memories (I do the same…*nods* clearly). I believe it is important that we retain these connections to ourselves & our histories through our elders as they are a part of us and illuminate what maybe dark in our understanding. I hope young people read the relationship between EG & her grandpa and reach for that connection with their own grandparents/elders.
Throughout this book, E-Grace remained herself; she didn’t allow others’ to tear down her sense of Self like others would in real life (it was a total “sticks and stones” vibe). EG had this “forget chu den (then)” sort of outlook and I was totally here for it. *Steps On Soap Box* Our children are so easily influenced, forgetting or detouring from who they are evolving into…they become “too grown” (which is so overrated, what ever was I thinking wishing to become an adult *shakes head*) before they ever had the chance to be a child. Ebony is the epitome of Black Girl Innocence & that is so beautiful to me. I hope that we allow our little boys and girls to remain in that child-like space for as long as they possibly can, to see the world with fresh eyes and learn from there, maturing at a more organic rate. *Steps Off Soap Box*
This book was set a little more than 2 years before I was born but I could still see myself in the story. My father was a definite hip-hop fan so I grew up listening to some of the music of this time period. Dance and double dutch also played roles & tied in with the music in this story which brought my heart great joy. I could *shakes hand* kinda sorta hold my own (once upon a time because I have bad knees now & feel older than I look) and I could bust a move on the dance floor (not break dancing doe, I was never meant for that life, I’ll gladly put a $1 in a break dancer’s hat & let them be great…no dance battle challenges shall come from my lips) but not so much on Ebony Grace’s end! I love that Ibi was specific with the songs mentioned so you could look them up and feel even more apart of Ebony’s world. So if you want to dive a little deeper, look up music from 1984 and really get into the grove of the story (now I wish I had done that).
Ebony displayed the Beauty of embracing who you are and not giving a flying rocket (see what I did there, *kool-aid smile*) whether or not other’s accept you. Everyone has their tribe & while it may not be big, it would be authentic to them (in this case, her tribe is her grandpa, which I doubt is an issue for Ebony Grace). Another beautiful notion is that the members of said tribe may change or increase as you change and/or people gain an understanding of you and which is all good too…Ebony may or may not find out about this on this journey (her dad maybe included). A quote that applies here is “why fit in when you were born to stand out?”-Dr. Seuss (*sage nod* wise words). Ebony was clearly meant to stand out and stand out she did in the most splendid of ways! She didn’t fight for anyone’s acceptance nor did she try to fit into anyone’s box in the name of making friends (*coughs* looks at Bianca *coughs*). E-Grace seriously occupies a piece of my Blerd (#BlackNerd) Girl Heart!
I loved how Ibi approached this story, the pacing of it, the characters and how everything came together. She thought of that one (or few) kid(s) that sit to themselves with their book, science experiment or game cards…mentally pointed to them and said “I See You and it’s okay to be who you are”. Ibi made that part of myself feel incredibly seen. If you are the nerdy type *pushes up glasses* (#ShoutOut to all the members of #TheGlassesTribe), love outer space, 80’s era of Harlem, Ibi Zoboi or a combination of all of the above, you should go out and get this book! As you read, let Ebony Grace speak to your inner (or outer) nerd & use Wonder Woman‘s Bracelets of Submission to *pew* *pew* *pew* away any gibberish lasers that may come your way =0)! Happy Space Travels…I mean, Happy Reading!