Twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet occupies her "imagination space" a lot more than she does reality, and her mother, in Alabama, decides it's time for her feet to touch down on Earth.
She's sent to spend a summer in Harlem with her father, who she's built up in her imagination to be the evil King Sirius Julius.
It's far, far away from Captain Norfleet, her grandfather, who set all this "imagination" business into motion many years before, with sharing his love and admiration of Star Trek (and Lt. Uhura) with his granddaughter.
Ebony-Grace has a hard time (this is putting it mildly) fitting in with the kinda boy-crazy, double-dutch, break dancing all-girl crews of the neighborhood.
Even Bianca, a girl she's already friends with from past visits, can't stand her refusal to grow up and exist in the vibrant life pulsing in Harlem of 1984. She makes some incredibly bad choices, and in a way, it's supremely sad, but by the end, she's made at least one connection and sort of found her way with Bianca and her father, again.
I won't spoil how it ends, just know there were plenty of tears. Enjoy the read!
Moving from Huntsville, Alabama to New York City is a big change for anyone. Especially for 12-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet. In Huntsville, Ebony-Grace was socially awkward and struggled to make friends. Despite this, she had her grandfather, someone who was ready to encourage her love of space and science fiction and allow her to live in what she called her “imagination location.” Now Ebony-Grace has been sent to Harlem for the summer to live with her father, while her mother sorts out some trouble with her grandfather. Ebony-Grace’s socially awkward troubles are elevated in Harlem, the streets are full of music and kids who don’t go to their imagination locations. Seeing this, Ebony-Grace is tempted to retreat into hers. Even though she might not fit in right away, Ebony-Grace begins to navigate her own path through this new life. She learns that while this is an entire new world, you can’t go disturbing the inhabitants from their own lives, sometimes you have to live along with them.
Every character goes through hardships that make you sympathize for them, with this book, my sympathy levels seemed to be working overtime. Ebony-Grace sees the world in a completely different view than the rest of her peers. She could be described as someone who is not neurotypical, though that is never mentioned outright by the book. At times I envied Ebony-Grace for her imagination, hers wasn’t waning away like the rest of her peers’. Others didn’t see the fact that she still had an imagination though. She was ridiculed for her clothes, nicknamed “Ice-Cream Sandwich” and told that she couldn’t be part of a friend group because she didn’t have enough “flava.” You have to admire her for her bravery at being thrown in a completely new world, especially when she wasn’t what was considered “normal.” There are points where Ebony-Grace is annoying and hard to understand, her repetition of a few phrases can get to you. But overall, the story-telling of this book is something to admire. At the end, despite all her troubles, Ebony-Grace still considers her “mission” a success.
I agree with a lot of what darladoodles said, including hearing "sonic boom" again, but I thought it almost seemed like Ebony- Grace was on the Spectrum. So much of what she did and said was as if she was in her fantasy world, and she had trouble with the "mainstream" people.
Definitely fell in love with the cover of this new middle grade novel set in mid-1980's Harlem. Ebony-Grace is quite a character and I wanted to like her. Her imagination and space adventures were impressive, but became repetitive. At times Ebony-Grace just seemed like a brat. The author most definitely helped me to feel like I really was in Harlem listening to that rap and hip hop. Perhaps I need to be a Trekkie to truly appreciate this one. The references to Uhura abound, but if I hear the term Sonic Boom one more time. . .
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