Thursday, March 1, 2018

Betty Before X


Betty Before X
By Ilyzsah Shabazz and Renée Watson
Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2018. Fiction, 248 p.

Ilyzsah Shabazz is the daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz. Betty Before X is a work of historical fiction based on the life of Dr. Betty Shabazz set primarily during the 1940s during Betty's childhood.

Betty tells her own story as she struggles to find a place where she truly feels that she belongs. She is raised her first few years with her Aunt Fannie Mae and her Grandma Matilda, in the South, where she witnesses a hate crime. She moves to Detroit when she is seven years old, finding herself with a sudden family of five siblings, besides herself, she had previously never met. Betty struggles in her relationship with her mother, Ollie Mae, and constantly seeks for her love and attention, which is seldom returned the way Betty would hope. She makes a couple of really good friends. Betty and her friends find themselves on a well-intended shopping trip where they are treated differently, because of the color of their skin. Betty becomes a member of the junior Housewives' League to fight for the rights of being treated equal.

Shabazz and Watson seamlessly weave important historical events into Betty's story and highlight experiences of living in the United States as an African-American during that time.

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