Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard

Black Girl Unlimited cover
Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown

by Echo Brown

Henry Holt, 2020
304 pages

Age 14 and older

Echo and her younger brothers are growing up in a family with limited economic resources and parents who find respite from their struggles with drugs and alcohol. As Echo also navigates a school system that undervalues Black students and underestimates their abilities, her determination to attend Dartmouth drives her to succeed. Then an abusive boyfriend assaults her and she shuts down, unable to get out of bed. Echo knows she and her mother are wizards who can freeze time. She realizes the two of them aren’t alone with their magic when her mother calls on other women in their community to help Echo rise. A story that regularly jumps back in time—a shift marked visually on the page with a mid-sentence gap and broken vertical dash before the sentence picks up again at a time in the past that relates to the present—reveals Echo was sexually assaulted as a child, a memory she has deeply buried.  In this arresting fictionalized account of the author’s life growing up in Cleveland, systemic racism and personal trauma have palpable weight. The magical realism underscores the impact of that trauma while also illuminating the vulnerabilities and especially the strength of Echo and others in her African American family and community. Following Echo to her first year at Dartmouth, this is a story full of both pain and grace. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center