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Delacorte. Feb. 2021. 416p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593172599.
Gr 6-10–Ginger East is the only home Nigerian American 16-year-old Chinelo, or Nelo as her close friends call her, has ever known. It has a reputation for being unsafe, but Nelo knows it’s just a misconception formed by tragic events that happened in the past. An act of vandalism at her best friend’s neighborhood store combined with the news of a fancy corporate spice store coming to her neighborhood send her reeling and seeking a way to express herself. When a viral video pushes Nelo into the spotlight, she becomes the face of Ginger East. On top of her sudden fame, it seems as though her best friend Kate, who is Vietnamese American, now wants nothing to do with her, and Nelo seeks out forms of protest through a neighborhood community group that shares her feelings about the recent changes. Nelo has to confront that whether she likes it or not, things are changing around her and she has to fight for her home. This book brings readers into the world of Ginger East, a neighborhood that is no stranger to violence, gangs, and police brutality, but introduces these topics in a way that is palatable for a middle school audience. The diverse cast of characters were a tight-knit group of best friends as kids, most of whom moved away from their neighborhood and now have been reunited through their shared experiences in Ginger East.
VERDICT A touching coming-of-age story, this is highly recommended for younger audiences who are looking for alternatives to more mature titles like Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and Nic Stone’s Dear Martin without losing the poignancy of the topics at hand. A must-have for middle school collections.

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