In the Key of Us book review

Key of us
In the Key of Us by Mariama J. Lockington
368 pages
publishes April 26th, 2022

From the author of the critically acclaimed novel For Black Girls Like Me, Mariama J. Lockington, comes a coming-of-age story surrounding the losses that threaten to break us and the friendships that make us whole again.

Thirteen-year-old Andi feels stranded after the loss of her mother, the artist who swept color onto Andi’s blank canvas. When she is accepted to a music camp, Andi finds herself struggling to play her trumpet like she used to before her whole world changed. Meanwhile, Zora, a returning camper, is exhausted trying to please her parents, who are determined to make her a flute prodigy, even though she secretly has a dancer’s heart. 

At Harmony Music Camp, Zora and Andi are the only two Black girls in a sea of mostly white faces. In kayaks and creaky cabins, the two begin to connect, unraveling their loss, insecurities, and hopes for the future. And as they struggle to figure out who they really are, they may just come to realize who they really need: each other. 

In the Key of Us is a lyrical ode to music camp, the rush of first love, and the power of one life-changing summer.

In the Key of Us is a dual-perspective summer camp book perfect for this summer. It’s a middle grade novel about girls struggling with identity, and it’s told with such sincere voice and heart that you can’t help but love it. If you were in a middle-school band, then you’ll identify with a lot of this — I definitely flashed back to how incredibly stressful chair auditions were in middle school, which I haven’t thought about until right now. (I consistently scored dead last because I never practiced at home, and I still don’t! But I do love playing cello when I get around to it.) It’s a sweet book, and it’s also hopeful for the future; I remember being twelve and it felt like I was on the brink of a lot of different things, and this book captures that feeling perfectly. Four and a half stars, rounded up for NetGalley. Bookshop link here.

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