Like Vanessa by Tami Charles

Thanks to Charlesbridge Publishing for providing us with a review copy of this title – all opinions are our own.

Happy release day to this new young adult title by Tami Charles!

Like Vanessa by Tami Charles
(Charlesbridge Publishing ~ March 13, 2018)

Featured photo and review by Kate Olson ~ originally published on Instagram @littleloudlibrary

LIKE VANESSA is a hard-hitting take on growing up in public housing in Newark, NJ in the early 80’s while under the spell of the first-ever Black Miss America, Vanessa Williams. The main character is also named Vanessa, and her story of being raised by her alcoholic, but well-meaning, grandfather and her mostly-absent father is absolutely heartbreaking. The pageant storyline brings up many important and timely themes of race and beauty ideals, while Vanessa’s cousin’s experiences addresses the struggle of being gay as a Black youth in the early ’80s in this neighborhood.

Librarian note: this title is being marketed to ages 10 and up, but I feel that it reads more like an early YA story, with the protagonist being in her early teens. I will be purchasing this book for my middle/high school library (grades 6-12), but not for my elementary. Highly recommended for all libraries serving middle and high school students.

And ANOTHER review of this title!

Review and photo by Laura Gardner ~ originally posted on Instagram @librarianmsg

Screenshot 2018-02-16 13.58.12

I. could. not. put. this. book. down! I can’t believe it’s a debut novel because Vanessa’s voice is so strong. Readers will love seeing how she grows and changes in the course of this book and they’ll be cheering for her by the end. It’s a magical Cinderella story for girls of all backgrounds. Includes issues like poverty, race, LGBT discrimination, family problems, friendship difficulties, addiction and more. Must purchase for all middle school and high school libraries!

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