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YA Review: Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh

Title: Every Body Looking

Author: Candice Iloh

Year Published: 2020

Category: YA fiction (verse)
Pages: 416
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map)USA (IL, Washington, DC)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): When Ada leaves home for her freshman year at a Historically Black College, it’s the first time she’s ever been so far from her family—and the first time that she’s been able to make her own choices and to seek her place in this new world. As she stumbles deeper into the world of dance and explores her sexuality, she also begins to wrestle with her past—her mother’s struggle with addiction, her Nigerian father’s attempts to make a home for her. Ultimately, Ada discovers she needs to brush off the destiny others have chosen for her and claim full ownership of her body and her future.

Review:  I'll be honest that I chose this book because it's written in verse and I had only 2 days before the end of the year. I wanted a book I knew I could finish. Shameless. But, it turned out to be a good choice! And look at that cover... so great!

I was immediately drawn into Ada's world from page 1. She is open and honest about what her challenges in life have been (in chapters alternating between reflections on elementary/middle school and the present as she begins college), what and who frustrates her, how important dance is, and what she wants out of life.

Ada is not looking for pity, but we do see that she's had a frustrating childhood with her divorced parents who have very different needs and demands of her. She also shows us what it was like to be the curvy Nigerian girl in an almost-all-white school. Attending a historically black college (she doesn't say it's Howard, but it is) is the first step she takes toward finding herself and her worth. Figuring out what passions to pursue is the second step and by the end of the novel I felt that Ada was on the right track even though everything isn't perfect.

The book works well in verse with lyrical dialogue, shouting, and inner monologues carrying the reader through Ada's life, experiences, and thoughts.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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