Sicily Jordan’s worst nightmare has come true! She’s been enrolled in a new school, with zero of her friends and stuck wearing a fashion catastrophe of a uniform. But however bad Sicily thought sixth grade was going to be, it only gets worse when she does her class presentation.
While all her classmates breezed through theirs, Sicily is bombarded with questions on how she can be both Black and Panamanian. She wants people to understand, but it doesn’t feel like anyone is ready to listen—first at school and then at home. Because when her abuela starts talking mess about her braids, Sicily’s the only one whose heart is being crumpled for a second time.
Staying quiet may no longer be an option, but that doesn’t mean Sicily has the words to show the world just what it means to be a proud Black Panamanian either. Even though she hasn’t written in her journal since her abuelo passed, it’s time to pick up her pen again—but will it be enough to prove to herself and everyone else exactly who she is?
The first person narration through the eyes of Sicily is spot on. She has to deal with changing friendships, a possible first crush, missing her abuelo, and confusing questions about her color.
Those not interested in how hair braids are created or the fashion choices of girls might choose to skip this one, but they will miss out on much more important dealings. That would be the often confusing path to understanding cultural and racial differences. Conflict is also splendidly portrayed in Sicily’s life both at home and at school. Something all middle graders will understand.
Sincerely Sicily hits all the right notes as Sicily tries to find out who she is and the voice she wants to be in this world. This contemporary debut will have you hoping for more books about Sicily.
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: SINCERELY SICILY by Tamika Burgess
- The hurtful comments about Sicily’s braids from her much adored abuela were heartbreakingly displayed in an early scene. Demonstrates the importance of using criticism in the right way.
- Sicily’s parents were a welcome and positive influence in her life even though Sicily might roll her eyes at some of their comments.
- I’ve been through the Panama Canal so the historical background as to the how and why it was built was a positive.
- Writing can be such a huge remedy when dealing with life’s road bumps. Sicily’s journal might inspire others her age to begin one of their own.
- A great classroom or at home discussion starter about culture, race, and finding your voice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tamika Burgess (Ta-mee-Ka Bur-jess) is a storyteller with over a decade of novel, TV/film, and personal essay writing experience. Born to parents who migrated from Panamá, Tamika has always taken a particular interest in writing themes that explore her Black Latina identity. Because of her passion for spreading the knowledge of Black Panamanian culture, Tamika has been featured on various websites, podcasts, and panels. When she is not writing, Tamika is somewhere cozy online shopping and listening to a podcast. Tamika resides in sunny Southern California, where she is writing her second novel. Learn more about Tamika at TamikaBurgess.com
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