Nigeria Jones

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. May 2023. 384p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062888846.
Gr 9 Up–Nigeria Jones, daughter of a Black nationalist and freedom fighter, has never known a life outside the Movement. She’s dutifully and willingly played the role her father groomed her to play, that of a warrior princess. She cares for her little brother Freedom, leads the Youth Group, helps build the Freedom School, adheres strictly to veganism, and mentors new residents of the Village House. Yet a year into her mom’s disappearance, she begins to waver. The more she learns about her mom and what her mom really wanted—for herself and for her daughter—the more Nigeria questions. When she discovers that her mom secured her a place at Philly Friends, a nearby Quaker private school attended by her cousin Kamau and family friend Sage, her questions turn from drips into a torrent. She starts to wonder if divesting and decolonizing, as the Movement espouses, is the path to change or, at the very least, whether it’s the path she wants to follow. Who is the Movement serving? Is it serving men and women equally? What is her path as a young Black woman? Might it be separate from the father she loves and the Movement she’s always known? Zoboi artfully introduces each chapter through an epigraph, each a quote either altered to center or by Black women, and structures the book by article, ultimately creating the Constitution of Nigeria Jones. These stylistic choices echo the themes of Black girlhood and intersectionality seamlessly woven throughout Nigeria’s story.
VERDICT A beautifully constructed portrait of one young woman growing into her own that will move readers to deeply consider the very same questions Nigeria must answer for herself.

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