‘The Voting Booth’ By Brandy Colbert is a Perfectly Poignant and Timely Novel – Book Review
When one turns 18, many often think of officially becoming an adult and all of the things that brings to our lives. This is the same for Marva and she’s exceptionally elated by the fact that she is now able to vote. With the first election upcoming, Marva is ready to cast her ballot and make a difference. Not only is Marva excited to vote, but she’s also been pounding the pavement, helping to get voters registered. So, when she sees a young man named Duke turned away from a polling station, she takes on the mission of making sure that Duke’s vote is counted.
This sets of a chain events that includes cutting school, waiting in a multitude of lines, venturing to various precincts and more for one simple right: the right to vote. Through their journey, Marva and Duke see just how the system can be stacked against people and while the pair start out as strangers, they realize that their shared want for democracy brings them together.
Typically when I choose a book to read, I am always steered toward otherworldly things such as science fiction and fantasy, but upon reading the synopsis of Brandy Colbert’s The Voting Booth I knew I had to read it. Voter suppression is very real and while I’ve seen people speak of their experiences with it and various statistics on the news about this problem, I never expected to see it take form in a YA novel. As I said, I was intrigued by the premise but I found myself wondering just how everything would be pulled together, and the answer to that is: flawlessly. From the subject matter to our two main characters, everything about The Voting Booth was truly great.
Firstly, we have Marva. Marva may be young, but she’s sure of herself and what she wants to do in the world. She wants to make a difference and she knows that voting herself, and registering others to do the same is a big step towards this goal. In comparison to Duke, Marva may be seen as a little rigid, but I enjoyed this in juxtaposition to Duke’s musical free spirit. It’s clear in the beginning that while Duke is exercising his right to vote, he hasn’t made this the be-all and end-all. In fact, his band is about to participate in their first paid gig and he’s obviously excited. He never expects that his day will turn into meeting Marva and going on a mission he never saw himself undertaking.
While the book focuses on the topic of voting and voter suppression, Colbert is sure to depict other prevalent parts of the experience of Black people in the United States of America, including the systemic racism and white supremacy that is engrained in every aspect of the country, and just how this impacts Black people throughout America. The book also touches upon family dynamics, women empowerment, social justice and more. It is perfectly poignant and a definite must-read for 2020.