- The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
Colbert, Brandy The Voting Booth. Hyperion, 2020 [304p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781368053297 $18.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781368053686 $10.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7-10
It's election day, and as a politically minded young African-American woman, Marva has waited all her life for her first trip to the polls; Duke Crenshaw also plans to vote, but it turns out there's a mixup with his registration address and he's turned away. Seeing that happen, Marva is determined to ensure Duke gets to vote, so she takes him in hand for what turns out to be a long day of travel to poll places and document acquisition. Meanwhile, Marva's in a rocky spot with her white nonvoting boyfriend and she's worried when her beloved cat (secretly a star of social [End Page 467] media) goes missing, while Duke deals with his activist little sister and thinks about his older brother, who died in a drive-by shooting and whose shoes Duke can never fill. Between the setup and the messaging the contrivance is undeniable, yet the book still makes for an enjoyable read as the dual narrations reflect Marva and Duke's increasing closeness and bring them toward the inevitable romance (after Marva dumps her millstone current BF). Marva the driven is an especially interesting character, and her speeches on issues of injustice, Black oppression, and the importance of voting sound natural; there's also enough to counterbalance (especially her adoration of her cat) to make her a full character. The points about the obstacles to voting are especially resonant, but readers will appreciate the book for addressing their concerns while also letting them have some sweet romance.