- Author: Debbie Rigaud
- 2nd Published
- Genre: YA Contemporary
- Background: Haitian-American
- IG-@froandabow; Twitter-@debbierigaud
- Release Date: 6/1/2021 (Out now y’all)
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Favorite Character-Gabbie…she reminded me so much of one of my favorite cousins! Her mannerisms and attitude had me thinking of my cousin whenever she was on the page… Debbie basically wrote my cousin in her book without personally knowing her (or does she? hmmmm). I also really loved Amita, sis is funny as all get out!
- Favorite Quote(s)–“Ohmygod, I’m done! Bye!” she screams, stomping away, and then jogging right back.-Gabby. When I read this, I thought immediately of my cousin and how this was something that my cousin would say and do, pretty much to a T! And another one #DJKhalidVoice: “Ah, so you’re about that immigrant parent life, too?”-Amita. As the daughter of TWO immigrants from two different countries, I felt this SO HARD! Having immigrant parents is tough…I know there are plenty others who relate, who are fellow first gens born in America! They really don’t play…same with Immigrant grandparents (Mine played zero games when it came to education)!
So, I have to acknowledge that I’m late posting about this book and I’m so sorry about it but I wanted to give it the energy that it deserves (better late than never, right?). I posted about it on instagram so, if you follow me, you will see lives where I showed the book (the ARC and final copy unboxing) and a pub day post which was a reel inspired by the story & one of the playlist points “Switch Up Style”, you can watch it here (shout out to my #GlassesTribe)! Debbie sent me a copy of an ARC and once I got to it, I ATE this book up! I laughed so much that my eyes leaked, I shouted and had flashbacks of times with my strict immigrant parents…I basically read my teenage life because my parents (mostly dad) was hella strict and those of us with West Indian parents KNOW you don’t want to cross your parents for any reason.
As a Half-Haitian, I felt like I was reading some of my family at points… from the food (diri djon djon-Black Rice is my favorite) to the mindset of the parents (*deep sigh*) to the family interventions into Simone’s life (*ugh*). I was low-key high-key flashing back to my teen years…from around 15 to 18, lol! While I didn’t write lists, I definitely plotted with my friends on how to get out of the house and what to say to get our parents to agree to things (you have to be THAT calculating with immigrant Parents…which, I hope mine aren’t reading this right now or else I may be in trouble…lol) just as Simone had to. Those of you who didn’t have super strict parents, you just don’t know how good you had it friends.
Speaking of friends, I LOVED Simone’s friends Amita & Kira and I’m throwing in Gabby too who doubles as her cousin/Best Friend. They reminded me so much of my best friends who also had immigrant and/or strict parents. Though I will say that my very best friend wasn’t really as pressed to free herself of the bonds of strict parentals, she had her own little things here and there…I feel like so many of us with strict parents, like Simone, Amita & Kira all have or had their ways of trying to get from under their parents thumbs. I loved how they worked together to make their senior year their own rather than what their parents tried to tailor for them. I felt like I was right there with them lamenting about their parents, responding “ughhhhhh, I hated it that” and “dang, y’all too?!” pretty much out loud. Honestly, I think my friends and I had similar conversations & meet ups throughout high school, especially in Senior Year! I adored how Amita & Kira took so quickly to Simone and were down for pretty much anything…we all should be blessed with friends like them!
I have to talk a little about my favorite, my cousin’s literary doppelgänger and Simone’s wingwoman, Gabby. When she first stepped on the page, I was like “OMG, SHE’S LIKE MY COUSIN” and I even DM’ed Debbie about that. Gabby is so hysterical and also like a ride-or-die for Simone. Even though she is younger than Simone (which, my cousin is a little younger than me too), she had some gems to drop and edges to snatch (literally because she also did hair). I think so many of us have that one cousin that’s like Gabby, who you can go for advice, to hang out with and even give you a bit of a makeover…these are the cousins that makes the boring family gatherings so much better and would be able to get you out of bed when you really didn’t feel like leaving it in the first place. Cousins like Gabby (and my fav) are a blessing to our sanity and I salute them!
Another character that I loved was Ben (not to be confused with Ben Philippe, lol) whenever he made appearances. He’s like this super down to Earth and realistic kid that I could totally see in my friends circle. Ben is honest but not pushy with it (like so many Haitians I know), observant, calm & cool but not the too-cool-for-school type. There were a few times when I was like “Simone, he’s aiight, just give dude a chance” but because Simone is so much like me, I understood why she behaved the way she did (not too many people like being set up) and he handled it well! With how well he rolled with the punches, he really deserved some bannann or a big plate of diri djon djon (better than any award, if you ask me or any other Haitians)! He was one of those characters that I really liked from the beginning, despite not being the instant fav of other characters (i.e. Simone). Ben was swoon-worthy in his own way, IMO.
When I read Simone’s character, I was like…wait…did I know Debbie as a teen? How did she know these things about me?! While some things weren’t the same (i.e, my mom’s cooking was Trini but I got my Haitian food fill from my Grandpa), Simone was me sneaking food, writing down my thoughts, daydreaming about how to obtain freedom and get around rules. Though even as she skirted some of the rules, she was pretty mindful of her parents and I thiiiiiink I was kind of mindful too (think being the operative word here, lol). I will say though that Simone was much more into history than I was at her age…I loved it but she was really about that life from speaking about Haitian history to her senior thesis paper on revolutionary figures. I really admired that about her and that aspect of her reflects so many teens we are seeing now who speak on the past & present to fight for all of our futures. I think so many teens will see that part of themselves in her or something else will speak to them. Simone is such a relatable character that I couldn’t help but think that we would’ve been friends if she was someone I met in real life. She’s a character for the people!
As you could tell by now, I really enjoyed this book, the characters and the story line. As I’ve said, it’s incredibly funny as it has so much banter in there to keep you entertained but not overwhelmed. It’s like reading A Haitian-Americans’ Clarissa Knows It All (did I just show my age there? O_O) but even more relatable. Once you pick it up, you won’t want to put it down. So make sure you either request it from your favorite local library or bookstore, I promise you will love it (you trust me, don’t you? *flutters eyelashes*)!
Well y’all, I’m going to end it here so I’m wishing you all happy reading and sending y’all tons of bookish love! For even more bookish banter, feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms. Until the next post, Bon jou or Bon nwit (depending on where you are in the world and what time it is)!