Welcome to Windows & Mirrors where we feature books that provide us windows to lives outside our own and mirrors to our shared common human experiences.
Today we’re celebrating Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renée Watson!
Ilyasah Shabazz is the daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. She’s the author of several books about her revolutionary family, including the critically-acclaimed adult memoir Growing Up X, a beautiful picture book about her father Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up To Become Malcolm X as well as a fictionalized middle-grade biography about him entitled X, a 2016 Coretta Scott King honor book. Now, she’s sharing the story of her mother who is just as inspiring as her father, both icons for the Civil Rights Movement.
Set in Detroit in 1945, Betty Before X is the heart-rendering fictionalized account of Betty Shabazz’s tween years. Betty struggled to understand problems with segregation and racial hostility in her community, and she had a very difficult home life due to her unloving mother. But Betty didn’t let those problems define her. She paid close attention to the positive role models in her community, which helped her develop admirable responses to hardship and injustice––forgiveness, gratitude, and a yearning to work for a better future. Those traits helped Betty bloom into the community leader and civil rights advocate who later married Malcom X. This story of a girl learning self-acceptance and overcoming the feeling that she didn’t belong is sure to resonate with young readers. The short, vividly-detailed chapters make for fantastic historical fiction for ages 10+. We can’t think of a better story to highlight during Black History Month, and we’re happy to report that, though it just released in January, it’s already in its second printing!
Ilyasah Shabazz is just as fascinating as her iconic and amazing family. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Check out this interview with her to learn more about her and her important work.
Also, if you’re going to read any blogs in February, you should check out The Brown Bookshelf’s 28 Days series. It’s fantastic with daily author interviews and book featuring black authors.
Posted by Michelle Leonard.