Summary: Partly Cloudy
Things are looking partly cloudy for Madalyn Thomas and her family. After being out of work for the last 7 months, her dad has found work in another state and her mom’s schedule as a social worker has become more packed from taking on overtime. Madalyn’s parents send her to live with her Great Uncle Papa Lobo during the week to allow her to attend school in a different district because of security issues at her former school. But as the only Black girl in class, Madalyn faces a new set of challenges at this new school.
This is very much a slice-of-life story. Stuff happens, but slowly. We follow Madalyn through her day-to-day activities from riding her bike to school to eating lunch in the cafeteria and her relationship at home with her parents and Papa Lobo. It reminded me a lot in that sense of Nina Hamza’s Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year.
The main theme of the story, however, is Madalyn’s encounter with microaggressions and prejudice. What’s interesting about this story is that the white girl in Madalyn’s life who is racist is almost unintentionally so. Because of a past negative encounter with a Black boy, she judges all Black boys as being dangerous — including Madalyn’s friend and her Papa Lobo’s godson, Jean.
I loved the way the author highlights that while some people can be plain evil and adamant in their racism, some others are ignorant and can change their thinking. I understand why that narrative arc may not sit well with every Black person, but I liked it and it’s realistic.
Madalyn is also a likable character. She enjoys reading, she tries hard to be a good daughter and she loves riding her bike to school. My enjoyment of her as a character — as well as her family — made the story worth reading. Toward the end, Madalyn’s community in California also have to deal with the wildfires which adds some much needed tension to the story.
Overall: Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy is an insightful middle grade story about family, community, and handling microaggressions in middle school. Author Tanita S. Davis presents the somewhat controversial idea that not all racist behavior is necessarily out of “evil” intent. Regardless, such microaggressions are worth addressing and learning about the backgrounds of others can build a measure of empathy. This slice-of-life novel is perfect for those who enjoy reading about the day-to-day of a character. It also features a lovable community and Creole words interspersed throughout. I liked this story and would definitely recommend it.
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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What a super review! It’s true that early encounters with individuals can determine how we feel generally about “types” of people, whether that means we view them positively or negatively. That’s not to say it’s right that we should feel that way, but simply that it happens. Making people aware of their prejudices often helps them to overcome them. Look at how the world is improving for so many people, whether their ancestors were disadvantaged by their sex, religion, skin colour, disability…name it! People are becoming increasingly open and less judgemental and it’s because of stories like Partly Cloudy that challenge us to think about our feelings and question our beliefs.