Subscribe to The Horn Book

Review of Betty Before X audiobook

Betty Before X
by Ilyasah Shabazz with Renée Watson; read by Ilyasah Shabazz
Intermediate, Middle School    Macmillan Young Listeners    Rev. 3/18
4 CDs    4.5 hrs.    978-1-4272-9368-8    $29.99

Long before she was the wife of Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz was a girl growing up in 1940s Detroit within a solid churchgoing community engaged in the fight for racial equality; a childless couple from this community raised Betty when her own mother rejected her. Having co-written her mother’s (fictionalized) story, Ilyasah Shabazz narrates the audio version, adjusting her voice to mimic youthful delight about candy and jazz music and readjusting it to capture Betty’s solemnity when faced with injustice. Betty’s busy social life and faithful churchgoing mean that narrator Shabazz must sing “Happy Birthday” as a child and “Amazing Grace” in the voice of Paul Robeson, who was a visitor to Betty’s community. Shabazz does neither song a disservice.

From the July/August 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Nell Beram

Nell Beram is coauthor of the young adult biography Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies (Amulet/Abrams), which made the 2014 Amelia Bloomer Project list and YALSA’s 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound list.

Share
Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind

*