The Voting Booth

Too bad I didn’t discover this book sooner (its publication date was July 2020) so that I could have pushed it as a voter’s primer for YA readers and in particular for senior students voting for their first time. It hits all the main points that argue for political activism and personal responsibility as the fundamental bases for a democratic society, including an informed citizenry, fair judicial and policing practices, and equitable access to polling stations. Sounds dull, doesn’t it? Not so in this fast-paced, literate and highly entertaining story of two young voters–each the product of middle-class biracial families–who meet for the first time one morning as they go to vote before heading to class.

Marva Sheridan has been waiting for this moment for years, although her excitement is tempered by an argument with her boyfriend of several years who has informed her that he isn’t going to vote because he thinks it won’t matter and he’s tired of thinking about it. Hoping he’ll text her and say he’s changed his mind, she checks her phone often until she gets involved in a voter problem that derails her plans for the day. Duke Crenshaw, who lives near Marva but doesn’t know her because he attends a public high school instead of Marva’s college preparatory school, goes to vote only to find he is not registered at the location he expected. When Marva overhears the frustrating discussion Duke is having with the poll workers, she steps in to take charge. For the rest of the day she drives him around town trying to get him to the right precinct so that he can vote. Meanwhile, throughout this day they learn about each other’s families, share problems and experiences, help each other resolve some personal problems and spark a romance.

Too bad the writing, like that in so many YA books, uses fucking-shit-God damn-asshole-dick and religious profanity almost as frequently as a-an-the. This really limits its distribution in school libraries and also among some YA readers. Why don’t authors or publishers ever think about this? For that reason alone, I hesitate to recommend it unreservedly to school librarians. I suppose I’ll drop it off at a Little Free Library somewhere and let the chooser decide to take it or not.

Categories: Civil Rights, Crime, Death and Grieving, Differently Abled, Diversity, Dysfunctional Relationships, Grief, Mental Health, Navigating through High School, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Parent Conflict, Peer Relationships, Political Activism, Racism, Rock Musicians, Social Disorders, Social Media, Violence

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