Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh | Book ReviewEvery Body Looking by Candice Iloh
Published by Penguin on September 22, 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Emigration & Immigration, People & Places, United States, African American, Coming of Age
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780525556213
Goodreads
four-stars

A Finalist for the National Book Award
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.
“Candice Iloh’s beautifully crafted narrative about family, belonging, sexuality, and telling our deepest truths in order to be whole is at once immensely readable and ultimately healing.”—Jacqueline Woodson, New York Times Bestselling Author of Brown Girl Dreaming
“An essential—and emotionally gripping and masterfully written and compulsively readable—addition to the coming-of-age canon.”—Nic Stone, New York Times Bestselling Author of Dear Martin
“This is a story about the sometimes toxic and heavy expectations set onthe backs of first-generation children, the pressures woven into the familydynamic, culturally and socially. About childhood secrets with sharp teeth. And ultimately, about a liberation that taunts every young person.” —Jason Reynolds, New York Times Bestselling Author of Long Way Down

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh was a finalist for the National Book Award, yet I still feel like not enough people that I follow are talking about it. In fact, I did a search on twitter and only one person that I follow has tweeted about it. What a shame, as Candice Iloh’s debut is just spectacular and one you need to put on your list particularly if you are an aficionado of verse books.

Candice Iloh’s Every Body Looking follows Ada who as the book is opening is graduating from high school. As the book goes on, we see Ada going through her freshman year at a Historically Black College – I believe Howard, if I remember correctly. Interspersed with her time at Howard are flashbacks to her past. We see Ada in first, second and sixth grade which adds so much context to Ada as a person. We also get a glimpse into the complexity of Ada’s relationships with her parents. Her dad is a successful Nigerian immigrant who is very religious and has high expectations of Ada. Ada’s mom has an unnamed mental illness, but we see how it impacts their relationship. We also get to see Ada’s love of dance. Plus there’s the whole being a Black female body in the world and Ada’s experiences and perception of this.

I read this book from a white gaze, as I am a white person. So, I am 100% sure I did not pick up on certain things that are outside my scope and experience. That’s okay. I do think Every Body Looking is such an important book to read. This book covers trauma, but also making mistakes and finding yourself. It is beautifully written. As this is Candice Iloh’s debut, I cannot wait to see what else she comes up with. It’s beautifully written and flows very well. The pacing is very quick, which is due in part to the verse format but also because Ada’s story is so compelling. Do not miss out on this book, it deserves your time and support.


four-stars
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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.

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