Ada, the daughter of a Nigerian immigrant and an African American mother, is about to set out on her own. In high school, she was thick-waisted, had hair on her upper lip, and few friends. She's been mostly raised by her dad because her mother floats in and out of their lives as she struggles with addiction. Now she is leaving home to begin her freshman year at a Historically Black College. She's never been this far away from her family, and for the first time in her life, she can make her own decisions.
She controls how she spends her time, her money, and who she is with. She also discovers a love for dance. Through dance, Ada uncovers parts of herself she didn’t realize were there. She also explores her sexuality and struggles to understand her past: her mother’s addiction, her assault, her controlling Nigerian father’s wishes. Ultimately, she concludes that she needs to forget everyone else’s dreams for her life and follow her own.
BTSYA / Teen Reader (14):
Every Body Looking is a beautiful representation of finding your self-worth on your own, away from the shadows of others. It portrays love, struggle, pain, and belonging. Ada talks about her heavily Christian father and the strict values he tried to instill in her. Once she arrives at college, she is free to reclaim her body and discover what is truly important to her: dance.
Readers should know that sexual assault is part of the story. Ada is raped by her older male cousin, and because of her family’s idea of suppression, she doesn’t reflect on the incident until she is by herself at school. The events are heartbreaking but powerful and told through poetry and flashbacks. Because it includes mature topics, I recommend this book for those ages 14 and older.
Novel in verse fans will enjoy this largely autobiographical story of a young woman experiencing independence and figuring out who she is.
This is a somewhat autobiographical story of a young girl's journey to discovering herself, her values, and her dreams upon going to college.
Several reviewers on other sites described Every Body Looking as a novella and wished that at the end readers knew more about what's next for Ada. Ask your readers: how would they write the next chapters?
15 and Up
14 and Up
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer's Age: 14
Borrow, especially if you like realistic stories or stories in verse.
|Title||Every Body Looking|
|Publisher||Dutton Children's Books, Imprint Penguin Young Readers Group © 2020|
|Genres||Poetry, Biography, Coming of Age, Realism | Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Social Issues, Africa | African People|
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|Publisher||Katherine Tegen Books, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2018 (Reprint Edition)|