Not Your All-American Girl

Scholastic. Jul. 2020. 256p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338037760.
Gr 3-7–When Lauren Horowitz tries out for her middle school’s musical, she thinks she might have a shot at the lead. She loves to sing, and even her classmates tell her that her audition is great. But when the drama teacher tells her she doesn’t look “all-American” because she’s Chinese and Jewish, Lauren begins to doubt whether her dream of being a singer is possible. While balancing her place in the ensemble, her growing button-making business, and her family’s hopes and expectations, Lauren starts to question her place in her suburban community in 1980s Tennessee. The text is interspersed with illustrations of the buttons Lauren wears and ends with selected pages of the play’s program. While many subtle cultural and historical references may be lost on a young reader, Lauren’s story is a sensitive and realistic portrayal of a girl who struggles to find her place in a community where very few people look like her. The 1982 murder of Vincent Chin plays a role in the story, and the authors address it in a way that is accessible to an elementary school audience without shying away from the racist motivations of the attack. Though this book is a sequel to 2017’s This Is Just a Test, it is a self-contained story, and readers do not need to read the titles in order.
VERDICT For fans of Jenn Bigelow’s Drum Roll, Please and Ann Hood’s She Loves You, this is a funny, tender, quick-moving story of family, friendship, identity, and music.

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