the voting booth

3 stars (release date 7-7-2020)

This is a quick and easy read about two 18-year-olds trying to vote for the first time in the general election. Set during a 24 hour time period, the two teenagers discuss such weighty topics as voter suppression, voter apathy, being black in america, white privilege, grief, interracial couples and other tough issues.

This is a good contemporary YA romance that also addresses social issues. Marva is an activist that spent months before the election helping register voters and spreading information about the upcoming election. She is excited about voting in her first election and is looking forward to college where she hopes to eventually go to law school and have a career in politics. She’s upset with her boyfriend who has suddenly decided not to vote, so when she sees a young teenager having difficulty voting at her precinct, she is determined to make sure that he is allowed to vote.

Duke has promised his mother that he would vote before school, but when he tries to vote at the local precinct, he realizes that he’s at the wrong place. When cute stranger Marva asserts herself into his predicament and insists he exercise his right to vote, he accepts her offer to help.

The rest of the book follows Marva and Duke’s exploits as they run into one road block after another to Duke voting in the election. Along the way the couple talk about issues in their lives and we learn the back story into why Marva and Duke feel such a deep need to vote in the election. Most of the topics arise due to a personal experience from one of the two, and while the topics are important and deep, the duo only discusses them superficially before moving on to another topic. This makes it seem more like the topics were artificially raised so they could be checked off a list of current events, rather than an authentic part of the story.

The secondary story line about Marva’s cat Selma didn’t really work. It was inserted to soften Marva and make her more likable, but it just felt awkward and stilted to me. Same thing with Duke being a drummer in a band.

Overall this is a quick and easy read that discusses current events in a digestible way for YA readers. It stresses the need for everyone to participate in the election process so their voice is heard, and that’s a great message to get out.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.