Black Girl Unlimited is a story that leaves me speechless. Tackling topics such as poverty, racism, and abuse, Black Girl Unlimited is about the line between power and belief.
A powerful YA debut novel based on the author’s teen struggle with racism, poverty, and depression.
Echo Brown is a wizard from the East Side, where apartments are small and parents suffer addictions to the white rocks. Yet there is magic . . . everywhere. New portals begin to open when Echo transfers to the rich school on the West Side, and an insightful teacher becomes a pivotal mentor. Each day, Echo travels between two worlds, leaving her brothers, her friends, and a piece of herself behind on the East Side. There are dangers to leaving behind the place that made you.
Echo soon realizes there is pain flowing through everyone around her, and a black veil of depression threatens to undo everything she’s worked for. Heavily autobiographical and infused with magical realism, Black Girl Unlimited is a transcendent coming-of-age. For fans of Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson and American Street by Ibi Zoboi.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: incest, pedophilia, abuse, sexual assault, rape
Black Girl Unlimited is a story that is itself a journey. It’s one of those books where reading the book is a journey. I went into Black Girl Unlimited expecting a fantasy. While it isn’t not a fantasy, it’s not a fantasy like you might expect. Echo’s story mixes surrealism, magic, power, and belief. We witness Echo’s coming of age story. Beginning with paragraphs told from a child’s perspective, we begin to see things between the lines. These scenes are some of my favorites because they are innocent, but also insightful in a way that is heart breaking.
Black Girl Unlimited is more about the magic of protection. The ways we can build a protective shell around ourselves. At the beginning it felt surreal, but as Black Girl Unlimited progresses, the magic deepens. It made me wonder if she was really a wizard, but also what does it matter either way? That’s what I mean about belief. Is it more important to have the powers than it is to believe in your own power? And potential? Black Girl Unlimited broke my heart in so many big and small ways.
In many ways, Black Girl Unlimited is an awakening. Learning how truly unfair the world can be, the knowledge that magic alone isn’t enough to save us. While I needed to take plenty of breaks from this book, Black Girl Unlimited defies explanation. I had trouble reading Black Girl Unlimited in some spots because of the formatting, but I wonder if that was just my ARC. There were very long paragraphs and there were some pieces of story that were disconcerting as a reader.
It’s a book about the cycle of poverty, the racism that breaks us down, and depression. It’s not only the power of dreaming, but the conditions. Planting the seeds isn’t enough. You have to nurture it, give it sunlight and warmth. The conditions of its growth is just as important as the dreams themselves. Find Black Girl Unlimited on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.