Review of The Revolution of Birdie Randolph

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph
by Brandy Colbert
High School    Little, Brown    327 pp.    g
8/19    978-0-316-44856-7    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-44857-4    $9.99

African American sixteen-year-old Dove Randolph, Birdie to her family, is on the “right” track, with good grades and a clear plan for her life after high school. The plan, chosen by her parents, means she has to give up playing soccer and is only allowed to date “appropriate” boys. When Birdie’s aunt, Carlene, arrives on the doorstep of the Randolph family’s hair salon, fresh from a stint in rehab, Birdie begins to push against the life that has been laid out for her. This rebellion includes dating Booker, a kind-hearted boy with a difficult past. Birdie knows her parents wouldn’t approve of Booker, so she keeps him away from them — and they don’t seem to approve of Carlene either, as they refuse to let go of her past mistakes and try to keep long-held family secrets from being revealed. Vivid dialogue and rich descriptions of the Chicago setting serve the story well. Birdie’s believable first-person perspective reflects a protagonist who evolves throughout the narrative to trust her own instincts. Colbert’s depictions of Birdie’s friends and family represent varied perspectives without passing judgment on those perspectives. As the family’s secrets are revealed, the story raises nuanced questions about how much we are shaped by our parents and how much by our own choices, just as Birdie is taking steps to craft her own ideas about her future.

From the July/August 2019 Horn Book Magazine.

Christina Dobbs
Christina Dobbs
Christina Dobbs is an assistant professor of English Education at Boston University. She is a former high school teacher, literacy coach, and reading specialist, and she studied adolescent literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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