The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

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The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
Disney-Hyperion, July 2020

Set over the course of Election Day 2020, this delightful two-hander starts when activist Marva and laidback musician Duke, both 18, meet cute at a polling station.

Over the course of the day, as Marva helps Duke get to vote and they look for Marva’s lost cat, social media celebrity Eartha Kitty, the author skillfully builds her characters, often using sidebar “About” chapters to fill in background information about other people important to them.

Though this presents as a smooth and easy romance, it’s something of a Trojan horse (in a good way!) Inside the charming exterior, the author doesn’t let the reader off the hook: the injustices against people of color and women are central to her characters’ passionate belief in the crucial need to vote to get change.

Alternating narration, the two lead characters, controlling Marva and laidback Duke come from ostensibly different backgrounds. Marva come from a comfortable middle class home, is one of only 8 black students at her fancy independent school and dates the charismatic (but ultimately villainous) white Alec. Duke’s family was shattered when his older brother, activist Julian, was killed and Duke has been learning how to deal with that loss ever since. But they are an attractive couple and it’s no surprise that after their initial decision to help Duke vote, their political dedication and commitment leads their relationship to develops quick.

The novel is apolitical in the sense that names and parties are not named, though I’m not sure how you could read this and vote Republican. Will it be enough to get Bernie elected? Likely not, but it might encourage a few readers to get out there and take their place in the democratic process.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for the digital review copy.

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