Review of Nigeria Jones

Nigeria Jones Nigeria Jones
by Ibi Zoboi
High School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    384 pp.
5/23    9780062888846    $19.99
e-book ed.  9780062888860    $12.99

Sixteen-year-old Nigeria is expected to lead the youth of the Movement (which is “like a small African West Philly village in the big, white state of Pennsylvania”) and model what it means to be a revolutionary. She is the daughter of Kofi Sankofa, “the Black nationalist, revolutionary freedom fighter, and founder of the Movement.” Since her mother’s departure a year ago, Nigeria has begun to question her own role. Now, though she has always been homeschooled, she learns that her mother attempted to enroll her in a Quaker school before she disappeared. Nigeria wants to fulfill her mother’s wishes, but her father refuses to give his consent because it goes against his desire to “divest from oppressive systems,” so she must break free of his plans for her. At the same time, she’s experiencing strong attraction (and more) to two very different boys. This book (whose chapter titles and epigraphs recall and remix U.S. founding documents) calls for deep discussions about the roles of Black women in the Black freedom struggle as well as the role of young people in these movements. It could be paired with Magoon’s nonfiction work Revolution in Our Time (rev. 9/21) and Martin’s Freedom!: The Story of the Black Panther Party to expand understanding of the real-life revolutionaries, such as those in the Black Panther Party, who inspire Kofi Sankofa. An opportunity for teen readers to begin grappling with their own ideas of what the revolution looks like.

From the July/August 2023 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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