Clouds over California by Karyn Parsons

Set in the 70s in Santa Monica, Clouds over California by Karyn Parsons tells the story of a mixed-race sixth grader. Stephanie Morrison, aka Stevie, moves to a new neighborhood at a critical time in her life, so making friends adds a layer of challenge. Her best friend from her former school has moved on, and talking about boys and fingernail polish are not Stevie’s thing. For Stevie, the library is a kind of church. She’s also loves to skate and imagines herself in an Olympic arena as a Roller Derby queen defending the team’s lead.

When her older cousin Naomi comes to live with the Morrison’s, Stevie plays audience to teenage drama. Furthermore, her parents’ arguing adds a layer of adult drama, and when her mom begins to spend an inordinate amount of time at the library in the company of Clarence, Stevie grows suspicious. Because her dad used to be in the CIA, Stevie believes she has inherited spy blood and begins to sleuth for clues. She also keeps secrets for Naomi, who sneaks out to see Jimmy Cole.

Through Stevie, Parsons writes a coming-of-age story, sharing clues for navigating conflicts with mean girls and bullies, secret keeping and parental quarrels. Parsons also alludes to personalities like Angela Davis and causes like the Black Panthers. As her world ripples with change, Stevie most wants to be confident and strong like Cleopatra Jones.

  • Posted by Donna

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