Tuesday 27 August 2019

Review: My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi

National Book Award-finalist Ibi Zoboi makes her middle-grade debut with a moving story of a girl finding her place in a world that's changing at warp speed.

Twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet has lived with her beloved grandfather Jeremiah in Huntsville, Alabama ever since she was little. As one of the first black engineers to integrate NASA, Jeremiah has nurtured Ebony-Grace’s love for all things outer space and science fiction—especially Star Wars and Star Trek. But in the summer of 1984, when trouble arises with Jeremiah, it’s decided she’ll spend a few weeks with her father in Harlem.
Harlem is an exciting and terrifying place for a sheltered girl from Hunstville, and Ebony-Grace’s first instinct is to retreat into her imagination. But soon 126th Street begins to reveal that it has more in common with her beloved sci-fi adventures than she ever thought possible, and by summer's end, Ebony-Grace discovers that Harlem has a place for a girl whose eyes are always on the stars.

Review: It was so great to read a middle grade book with such depth and substance. In this novel, Ibi Zoboi creates such a tangible and all encompassing world in 1980s Harlem that is impossible not to be drawn in and completely absorbed by this book. I loved wandering through the streets with Ebony Grace, seeing the view from her window and experiencing it through the eyes of someone the same as myself, someone who has never seen anything like it before. 

Ebony Grace is a really interesting character because her father is the king of Harlem, but her grandfather, to her, is the kind of space exploration but Ebony has not spent a whole lot of time in either of those places. She is familiar with her home in Alabama and so she has this innocence and naivety about her. She has very strong views about how she THINKS the world should be however and things she has learned from what her mother has said to her about this particular part of Harlem over the years. I enjoyed getting to know her stubborn personality and see her learn and grow over the course of the novel. 

This really was a whole different world for me and I enjoyed spending time getting to know 1980s Harlem and the characters we find throughout the book. I loved the fact that we get to escape into Ebony Grace's head and blast off into space. There are some graphic novel style pages in this book too that give you a better understanding of the world that she envisions and the kind of space missions she would like to undertake with her grandfather. I do think this book reads towards the upper end of middle grade but I did really enjoy it and definitely recommend this book. 

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