Review of My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich
by Ibi Zoboi; illus. by Anthony Piper
Intermediate, Middle School    Dutton    252 pp.    g
8/19    978-0-3991-8735-3    $16.99

In the summer before seventh grade, in 1984, Ebony-Grace Norfleet Freeman — also known as E-Grace Starfleet, space cadet, in the comics she imagines — is on her way to visit her father in Harlem. Her journey from Huntsville, Alabama, to New York City seems more like a trip to a foreign galaxy, as she must cope with living with a father she hardly knows, adjusting to an unfamiliar neighborhood, and navigating confusing social circles and friendships. Adding to her anxiety, she soon learns that her beloved grandfather (the only person who entertains her star-filled dreams of science fiction, space travel, and adventure) is in some kind of trouble back home, and unfortunately for her, she will be staying in Harlem longer than initially planned. Throughout the novel, Ebony-Grace faces the challenges of change and of creating new relationships and community. Zoboi’s (American Street, rev. 3/17; Pride, rev. 9/18) touching and (sometimes) humorous coming-of-age story highlights the importance of imagination and learning to celebrate what it means to be different in a world that demands conformity. Interspersed black-and-white panel illustrations that depict Ebony-Grace’s fanciful voyages to other worlds add touches of nostalgia and authenticity to an already-captivating character and story.

From the July/August 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Monique Harris

Monique Harris is a public educator, reading specialist and independent educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science degree in Education from Simmons University, and is enrolled in a PhD program at Florida State University.

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