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Friday, September 18, 2020

Review: Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh

Every Body Looking 
by Candice Iloh

Thank you NetGalley & Dutton Books for Young Readers for this beautiful copy.

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: September 22, 2020
Kindle Edition
416 Pages
Genres: Poetry, Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT

"Ada” means first daughter, means oldest girl, means pressure. “Ada” means you are expected to do a lot of things because the honor of this family rests on your back.

When Ada leaves home for her freshman year at a Historically Black College, it’s the first time she’s ever been so far from her family—and the first time that she’s been able to make her own choices and to seek her place in this new world. As she stumbles deeper into the world of dance and explores her sexuality, she also begins to wrestle with her past—her mother’s struggle with addiction, her Nigerian father’s attempts to make a home for her. Ultimately, Ada discovers she needs to brush off the destiny others have chosen for her and claim full ownership of her body and her future.

Every Body Looking is a luminous and inspiring novel in verse about bearing the weight of others’ expectations and finding the courage to shape a life of one’s own.

My Review:

I can't remember the last time I read a book in verse/poetic style and wasn't sure how it would resonate for me as I typically find poetry hard to review.  However, when you have 416 pages of a lyrically beautiful story, it felt like listening to the most beautiful song that told you a very important story.  I found myself fascinated and read it in its entirety without ever getting up from my couch.

Ada's story is told in nonlinear style as we see her growing up under the weight of enormous expectations.  Her father's strong Christian values, her mother's addiction, the cruelness of her fellow students, the confusing abuse at the hands of someone unexpected.... she just wants to dance and even that is frowned upon.  When she leaves for College and not surrounded by all of this, she still struggles to find her footing but is ever so grateful for the freedom being away from home finally provides.  

This certainly is not an easy story to read at times and I do wish we got maybe a bit more in depth of her childhood and some very heavy issues to make the story feel a bit more complete.  However, the writing is strong and you absolutely feel for Ada all the way through.  It was such a pleasure to see Ada grow and I was so engrossed that I was surprised when it ended and wanted more!  Plus, how gorgeous is this cover?


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