‘Malcolm and Me’ Is A Journey Through With A Teen Grappling With Her Worldview, Relationships and Religion – Review
Rebellious and poetic are two words that describe Roberta Frost. The 13-year-old is doing her best to navigate her early teens. Now, we all know that being a teenager is difficult enough and after calling a former U.S. President a hypocrite for enslaving people and having a nun at her Catholic school respond with a racist insult, Roberta also begins to question her religion and how it fits into the greater scope of her life.
Reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X, writing poetry, and participating in an essay contest keep Roberta busy after the encounter with the nun and the other difficulties she’s experiencing in her life. But when Roberta receives the devastating news that she not eligible for the essay contest, her reaction is one that is met with a confrontation with her mother that leads to Roberta learning some truths about her family she was never expecting.
Robin Farmer’s Malcolm and Me is set post-Civil Rights Movement and upon reading the book, it’s clear that not many things have changed. The honesty of Malcolm and Me is what struck me most whilst reading. It is unapologetic and nothing is sugar-coated to appease readers. Through the story’s protagonist, Roberta, the reader can see that every tribulation in Roberta’s life is leading her to an explosive outcome. However, Roberta channels her outrage into her art, telling a story that is all her own.
Malcolm and Me does a great job of introducing young readers to difficult but necessary content matter. It is very well-suited to a middle-grade audience, and it is likely they will find both compelling and relatable elements of the story whilst they read. Throughout the novel, it is great to see just how Roberta grows through everything life throws at her. Farmer balances all of the struggles that Roberta is experiencing and devotes time to each one. No issue ever feels pushed to the side or discarded for another. This is a testament to both Farmer’s writing and storytelling.