Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black-and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her.
Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living.
When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie’s attic, they team up to figure out exactly who’s behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.
There is a lot going on in this book and I really appreciate that. Middle school is hectic and rarely is one kid only dealing with one issue. There’s plot lines about family life, new and old friends, and mysterious journals!
The plot line that probably hit closest to home was Alberta feeling like everyone is growing up around her while she wasn’t. Other girls were getting their periods or wearing make-up or thinking about boys, and Alberta felt left behind. If you don’t relate to the theme of feeling too young while all of your friends seems to grow up faster, biologically or socially, you’re lying.
I love that Alberta has two dads and the relationship with her surrogate mother was unsure. Like, Alberta hadn’t spent much time with her before, so when she stops by, Alberta isn’t sure how to feel. While I don’t have queer parents or know people who do, this kind of unsure relationship felt real from the eyes of a 12 year old!
The journal plot was interesting! It’s not like “this is going to change the whole town” impactful, but it shows a glimpse into the 1950s and how one act of kindness can impact a family. Also my heart went out to Edie and Alberta trying to research the journals and only having the first name. Ah, children’s first research project.
I rated this 3.5 stars! A solid middle grade novel I’d recommend to fans of contemporary middle grade!