Robin Farmer’s Malcolm and Me is a young adult novel which explores growing up in the 70s around the time of Watergate and Malcolm X. Roberta Forest, the novel’s feisty voice, describes her experiences as she navigates attending a private Catholic School as one of the few (and most outspoken) Black students in her class. The racial currents that are discussed in the novel are very timely for the events of 2020 including the Black Lives Matter protests from the summer and even issues surrounding President Trump’s term in office. At 13 years old, Roberta is trying to find her voice as a poet and writer; she has aspirations to win the school’s annual writing contest but she keeps having run ins with her teacher, Sister Elizabeth, along the way. Roberta’s experiences with Sister Elizabeth’s subtle microaggressions and other classmates leave her frustrated so she turns to the Autobiography of Malcolm X for comfort and guidance. Roberta struggles with her faith, her home life, and her beliefs as a couple of secrets become uncovered.
Malcolm and Me was an engaging and timely story. The reader witnesses Roberta’s growth against adversity and how she stumbles and rises with grace through this particularly difficult year. I was able to read an advanced copy of Malcolm and Me thanks to NetGalley and SparksPress.