Lotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution

Bloomsbury. Sept. 2022. 304p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781547608461.
Gr 5 Up–“All I ever wanted to do was play my music and be free to express myself,” declares rising seventh grader Lotus Bloom; but the conflict-averse, peace-and-love violinist is facing new obstacles this year. Her best friend, Rebel, believes Lotus should stay at their underfunded neighborhood school and fight to improve it, instead of attending the new performing arts school, Atlantis. When Lotus, who is Black, is promoted to concertmaster, she makes an instant enemy in Adolpho, who was demoted, and whose mother is a powerful fundraiser for the new school. Adolpho and his friends begin targeting Lotus’s afro, and the girl realizes she has to take action. Rebel urges her to fight, but Lotus’s divorced parents agree that compromise might be best. With a best friend who is dismissive of her feelings and parents and teachers who are oblivious to the extent of Adolpho’s bullying, an overwhelmed Lotus struggles to answer the question of who she is. Eventually, Lotus realizes, “There’s a certain peace that comes with confronting what’s wrong, and making it right for you.” Lotus is a unique and deeply realized character, and while the diverse secondary characters aren’t as developed as they could be, the scenes of Lotus playing music are beautiful, and the themes of inequality and racism in schools resonate.
VERDICT A first purchase for public and school libraries, and an excellent choice for book clubs.

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