Every Body Looking

Listening Library. 2020. 255p. $34. ISBN 9780593288436.
Gr 7 Up–This moving and lyrical coming-of-age story in verse is sensational and unforgettable. Burdened with heavy expectations at a young age, Ada struggles to figure out who she is underneath the mask she puts on to appease her parents and her peers. Her father is a Nigerian immigrant and her mother is an emotionally abusive African American woman dealing with mental health issues. Her father has custody and raises her in the church, setting very high standards for how she should look and behave. All Ada wants to do is dance and draw, but she is an obedient daughter and always puts her elders first. The story is told in alternating timelines between her time in public school and moving away to college. Listeners feel the anguish and inner turmoil as Ada struggles to peel back the mask that holds her in place. Flashbacks to painful moments from the past, e.g., being molested by a cousin, segue to painful moments in Ada’s present. Expertly narrated by the author herself, this story is one listeners won’t forget.
VERDICT At times painful, but ultimately cathartic for Ada and listeners alike; impossible to put down.

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