While everyone is out here watching “The Kissing Booth 2” on Netflix, I was enjoying the epic journey shared between Duke and Marva as they traveled back and forth through town in their quest to ensure Duke's vote counted in the presidential election.
I purchased this book on a whim at the tail end of a wash day and started reading it while sitting under the dryer. I only got about 13 pages in and then completely forgot about it. And then I picked up back up last night, and I have to say, I’m surprised by how much it was able to keep my attention and interest. So much so, that I didn't call it quits until about 5:30 this morning.
Marva and Duke meet bright and early while they’re both exercising their right to vote in the presidential election. As high school students who have recently turned 18 years old, this is their first time being able to cast their vote and the stakes are HIGH for obvious reasons. Marva is able to easily cast her vote and feels triumphant and proud of having done her part when she sees Duke being turned away and told that he wouldn’t be able to vote because his name isn’t on the list for that particular polling location. Outraged and determined to ensure his voice is heard and counted, they set out to make it happen. Sending them on a whirlwind adventure that gave me just as of an adrenaline rush as some of my favorite Fast and Furious movies.
I think its a testament to Brandy Colbert's writing that a book about two kids trying to VOTE kept me completely engaged, invested, and engrossed in the story from beginning to end. The way the character's background stories and histories were weaved into the main plot to provide further context and insight into their motivations and reasons for fighting so hard to cast Duke's vote, made for a full and robust story that I can't help but to appreciate. We got to know about Duke's parents and the impact of loss on their family, and we got to fall in love with Marva's IG famous cat who also played a role in making sure folks knew how important their vote was.
I loved how mature these kids were as well. One of the main reasons I stopped reading YA many years back, was because as I got older, the angst and turmoil that riddled every YA novel just got to be too annoying and distracting for me to continue to enjoy the stories. At 18 our problems seem so important and world-ending. Like we are facing the end of days at every turn, but it isn’t until you get a bit older, that you realize just how silly some of the stresses and things we deemed as earth-shattering as a teen were. I didn’t have to deal with a single ounce of that in this book and while I know there is an audience for the angst, I’m glad to see that there is a spectrum and some books fall on the far left of it. There are other ways to create tension and conflict in a story that doesn’t include breakdowns over boys or bad grades. Brandy showed that in spades with this book and these characters who expressed themselves when they were feeling a way, didn’t hold back on speaking their minds not only to one another but to their parents as well, and who stood up for what they believed in regardless of how they would be seen by their peers.
This was a really cool and entertaining book, and even though we don’t get to see the fictional results of the election at the end, we do get to experience their accomplishment and feeling of victory Marva and Duke have after having spent a whole day fighting for their voice to be counted and ensuring that others got the chance to as well.
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