Review of Not Your All-American Girl

Not Your All-American Girl
by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Intermediate, Middle School    Scholastic    256 pp.    g
7/20    978-1-338-03776-0    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-338-03778-4    $10.99

This follow-up to This Is Just a Test stars Lauren Le Yuan Horowitz, sister of the previous book’s protagonist. In 1984 suburban Virginia, Lauren is starting sixth grade secure in the “Royal We” of herself and her best friend, Tara. Auditioning for the school musical, Lauren — a talented singer who nails her “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” rendition — is disappointed to be cast in the ensemble while Tara snags the lead. The show is about a 1950s “All-American Town,” and according to the drama teacher, Chinese and Jewish Lauren doesn’t fit the part. Casual racism and microaggressions abound through Lauren’s day-to-day interactions with friends, community members, and even ’80s pop culture (i.e., squirming her way through Sixteen Candles). Her growing love for country music (with an extended vignette about mistaking Patsy Cline for Jewish) helps boost her confidence, as do new friendships with her ensemble-mates. A side story about Lauren’s paralegal mom contemplating law school — and our protagonist’s bratty reaction — leads to support and understanding. Lauren’s two peppy grandmothers, in continual competition for matriarchal domination, are back, providing generational wisdom and snappy comic relief. A button-making business, a Sun In hair mishap, a Hula-Hooping janitor — all add levity and scene-setting detail to this entertaining and thoughtful coming-of-age story.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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