Betty Before X (Hardcover)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 9780374306106, 256pp.
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
In Detroit, 1945, eleven-year-old Betty’s house doesn’t quite feel like home. She believes her mother loves her, but she can’t shake the feeling that her mother doesn’t want her. Church helps those worries fade, if only for a little while. The singing, the preaching, the speeches from guest activists like Paul Robeson and Thurgood Marshall stir African Americans in her community to stand up for their rights. Betty quickly finds confidence and purpose in volunteering for the Housewives League, an organization that supports black-owned businesses. Soon, the American civil rights icon we now know as Dr. Betty Shabazz is born.
Inspired by Betty's real life--but expanded upon and fictionalized through collaboration with novelist Renée Watson--Ilyasah Shabazz illuminates four poignant years in her mother’s childhood with this book, painting an inspiring portrait of a girl overcoming the challenges of self-acceptance and belonging that will resonate with young readers today.
This title has Common Core connections.
About the Author
Renée Watson grew up in Portland Oregon, came to New York for her degree in writing, and now teaches poetry in the New York City Schools. Her books include Betty Before X, Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, and What Momma Left Me which debuted as the New Voice for 2010 in middle grade fiction by The Independent Children's Booksellers Association.
Praise For Betty Before X…
"...this moving fictional account of the early life of the late civil rights leader and widow of Malcolm X draws on the recollections of family and friends. The result is a heart-rending imagining of Shabazz's personal challenges as well as a rare, intimate look at the complex roots of the American civil rights movement. A personal, political and powerful imagining of the early life of the late activist." —Kirkus starred review
"...absorbing...History comes alive in this illuminating portrayal of the early life of this civil rights activist..." —Publishers Weekly starred review
"An excellent work of historical fiction that will illuminate and spark discussion."—School Library Journal starred review
"The lessons from Betty’s life are abundant: forgiveness, gratitude for life’s blessings, and planting seeds for the future. Her response to hardship and injustice is timeless."—Booklist
"Set mostly in the black neighborhoods of 1940s Detroit, this affecting novel covers Betty’s life from age eleven...to just before the start of high school... The authors tell Betty’s story in an engaging and accessible first-person voice; they manage to portray Betty as a relatable pre-teen who likes to dance to Billy Eckstine records and read Ebony magazine even as they lay the groundwork for the remarkable woman she will grow up to be." —The Horn Book