Indigo and Ida

Heather Murphy Capps's debut is a powerful and climactic contemporary novel.

Aspiring journalist Indigo hopes that breaking a story about racist systems in their school will get the attention of her friends, who are currently more interested in popularity. As she investigates, she discovers a copy of Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells that has, tucked inside its pages, private letters written by the Black journalist and activist. Indigo is entranced by Wells's writing and finds motivation in both Wells's autobiography and personal letters--the eighth grader decides to run for student body president to shed light on the racism Black and brown students face at the hands of their white principal. But while Indigo's first push to expose racism at her school was lauded, her peers react negatively to her desire to continue pursuing justice, suggesting she "chill out" and stop being so "militant."

Capps voices both Ida B. Wells and eighth grade activist Indigo authentically, and Wells's fictional letters display similarities between the two while also providing the tween with advice ("People can be cruel but I didn't let them discourage me and neither should you"). Indigo, a passionate fighter for justice and equality, has the journalistic spirit of Wells; when her peers question her tactics, she perseveres, knowing she is doing the right thing. Secondary characters like Indigo's family help Capps include sensitive portrayals of difficult conversations, such as when Indigo questions if her white mom really understands her plight. Indigo and Ida is a spirited and poignant novel for middle-grade readers. --Kharissa Kenner, children's librarian, Bank Street School for Children

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