Kin: Rooted in Hope - Review
*I received a digital/physical copy for Rockstar Book Tours via Atheneum Books for Young Readers. All reviews are my own.*
Ever since joining Bookstagram, my curiosity about books has expanded. I love seeing new titles pop up on my timeline, as well as the excitement of getting my hands on them. There have been a few times when a couple of books have flown under the radar for me, such as the Onyeka series, and I always feel some invisible duty to bring it back to light. Kin: Rooted in Hope is one of those books. Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by her son, Jeffery Boston Weatherford, the Weatherfords take you through a carefully researched timeline of family history in the words of poetry and drawings.
"Carole and Jeffery Boston Weatherford’s ancestors are among the founders of Maryland. Their family history there extends more than three hundred years, but as with the genealogical searches of many African Americans with roots in slavery, their family tree can only be traced back five generations before going dark. And so from scraps of history, Carole and Jeffery have conjured the voices of their kin, creating an often painful but ultimately empowering story of who their people were in a breathtaking book that is at once deeply personal yet all too universal.
Carole’s poems capture voices ranging from her ancestors to Frederick Douglass to Harriet Tubman to the plantation house and land itself that connects them all, and Jeffery’s evocative illustrations help carry the story from the first mention of a forebear listed as property in a 1781 ledger to he and his mother’s homegoing trip to Africa in 2016. Shaped by loss, erasure, and ultimate reclamation, this is the story of not only Carole and Jeffery’s family, but of countless other Black families in America."
I’m not a fan of the presentation of this book. I have nothing negative to say about the Weatherfords and their family history. Still, I think this book would have done better as a nonfiction or a full-blown biography rather than short poetry on pages. I understand when it comes to Black folks, finding our deep-rooted history is like finding a needle in a haystack because so much documentation has been destroyed, altered, or lost. So, I commend the family for deep-diving to see where it all started. But for me, the book doesn’t quite hit home. I would have been able to fully digest this if it was readable, like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot or The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs. The readers would have gotten more in-depth into the history and discoveries of the Weatherfords rather than short insights through crafty words and art.
This book would hit great for middle graders. The book is easy to digest, and it doesn’t read like a typical nonfiction book.
Overall, I don’t have a rating for this narrative. I’m a fan of historical fiction, but this book doesn’t bend the corners for me. In all honesty, while reading this, I got the sense that the author wanted to write a full-blown work of art, but because of a lack of information, she made do with what she had. I would justify my nonrating if it were pure nonfiction. Still, because the author did multiple POVs with unrelated blood and sometimes inanimate objects, it doesn’t feel right to judge with a star system.
Also, check out Becky's review. She sums up my thinking as well.