Review of The True Definition of Neva Beane

The True Definition of Neva Beane
by Christine Kendall
Intermediate, Middle School    Scholastic    240 pp.    g
9/20    978-1-338-32489-1    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-32493-8    $10.99

Twelve-year-old Neva Beane loves words and consults her dictionary to help find the right ones for any situation. But lately, with the changes that come with puberty, Neva hasn’t been quite herself, and the dictionary is getting a workout. Neva and her older brother, Clayton, live with their grandparents; their musician parents are on tour for the summer. At sixteen, Clay has become politically active and is spending a lot of time with their neighbor Michelle, whose father is a community organizer. Neva begins to admire the sophisticated and confident Michelle as well and finds herself wanting to prove she is aware of what is going on around her. But when she discovers that Michelle has “volunteered” her to be on the frontlines of a march for justice without her permission, Neva realizes she might be moving too quickly. Kendall (Riding Chance) paints a sympathetic portrait of a thoughtful and smart young woman negotiating change, whether it be in her family, her friendships, or her own body. Many young readers will relate to Neva’s newfound understanding of inequality and injustice in her community and the world beyond.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

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