Indigo and Ida

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Pub Date 04 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 31 May 2023
Lerner Publishing Group, Carolrhoda Books ®

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When eighth grader and aspiring journalist Indigo breaks an important story, exposing an unfair school policy, she's suddenly popular for the first time.

The friends who've recently drifted away from her want to hang out again. Then Indigo notices that the school's disciplinary policies seem to be enforced especially harshly with students of color, like her. She wants to keep investigating, but her friends insist she's imagining things.

Meanwhile, Indigo stumbles upon a book by Black journalist and activist Ida B. Wells—with private letters written by Ida tucked inside. As she reads about Ida's lifelong battle against racism, Indigo realizes she must choose between keeping quiet and fighting for justice.

When eighth grader and aspiring journalist Indigo breaks an important story, exposing an unfair school policy, she's suddenly popular for the first time.

The friends who've recently drifted away...

Advance Praise

"Engaging, important, and impossible to put down."—Cindy Baldwin, author of Where the Watermelons Grow and The Stars of Whistling Ridge

"Engaging, important, and impossible to put down."—Cindy Baldwin, author of Where the Watermelons Grow and The Stars of Whistling Ridge

Available Editions

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ISBN 9781728467689
PRICE $19.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 25 members

Featured Reviews

I was so pleased to get an advance copy of Indigo and Ida by Heather Murphy Capps. I was expecting a story about a middle-school-aged kid on the outs from their friends who finds inspiration from Ida B. Wells, but I was given so much more! This is a novel that not only takes on racism without flinching or sugar-coating, but does so without ever sacrificing a good plot and fully-realized characters to do so.
The writing is vivid, original, and paced well; the story is exciting and immersive. Each scene is richly detailed, and Indigo, Abbie, Trinity, and the other characters are distinct and interesting. The families of the students are unique and we can imagine them – it’s marvelous how Heather Murphy Capps does this with just the occasional detail.
Indigo is a student who wants to do the right thing, but she’s also a bit on the outside, not part of the popular girls she calls the “tictacs” while her best friend Abbie is. This could easily have been a satisfying but uninspiring story, but Heather Murphy Capps gives us so much more than that. She gives us history and shows us how flawed the present is. She also gives us hope and ambition in the shape of Indigo Belle Fitzgerald.
Indigo’s experiences are all relatable, as is the soul-searching she has to do as the story builds; the school principal is a walking micro-aggression, and white kids are let off the hook for the same infraction that Indigo goes to detention for at the outset of the book. All of it is absolutely realistic. This is stuff my friends with kids talk about all the time – the racism Indigo confronts and reports on is constant and often unaddressed in schools and communities across the US. The people who speak up – look at Twitter – face the same kind of backlash Indigo does.
As the story unfolds we get to see Indigo taking on injustice at school while her parents are facing it at work; her parents are street medics at protests, and we share Indigo’s anxiety for them. Activist parents and hashtags like #BlackHealthMatters are something we don’t see a lot in middle grade fiction, but we should.
This is brave, smart writing that will make a reader think and feel – nothing is sugar coated, and I’m so glad: this is rarer than rubies in US children’s fiction, but it shouldn’t be. At the same time, this is also a good story with a relatable kid at the heart of it, and the reader isn’t pulled from Indigo’s story by the hashtags or the history.
Instead, as with the best middle grade protagonists – Harriet M Welsch was the first to come to mind as I read – Murphy Capps facilitates for the reader a kinship with Indigo, and I cared enormously what happened to her. Not only did I want her to succeed, I wanted her to feel good about herself no matter the outcome. More than that, I wanted her to feel safe and seen.
The letters from Ida B. Wells are lovely, and Murphy Capps is deft in how she uses them to enrich and propel Indigo’s story while doing justice to who Wells was and what she accomplished. Murphy Capps includes sparks of personality in each letter so that they do not feel jarring in comparison to Indigo’s story, and this shows a skill few other writers for children possess: the ability to insert history in seamless flow with the story itself.
I’m already thinking of kids I can share this book with when it comes out, and I’ve added Heather Murphy Capps’s name to the list of MG writers whose next books I’m anticipating. A reader who enjoys Erin Entrada Kelly or Amy Sarig King will undoubtedly love this novel. I highly recommend it. I hope the teachers I know take my recommendation to read this and share Indigo and Ida with students. It should end up on all the prize lists this year – it’s Newbery Medal material, and would make a great choice for Battle of the Books.

I received an advance copy of Indigo and Ida by Heather Murphy Capps from NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.

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(Review by middle schooler):

I absolutely loved this book! It's a great book for more advanced elementary school readers, and a good light read for middle school. It's relatable and funny, capturing middle school drama perfectly, while also covering real world topics like racial equity. Through mysterious letters, this amazing book connects historical civil rights activist and journalist Ida B. Wells, and Indigo, an aspiring 8th grade journalist who just wants to make her school fair for everyone.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy!

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The way that Heather Murphy Capps weaves together all the story threads in this book to pack a huge punch of an ending in had me staying up way past my bed time to finish. Wonderful theme that would be excellent in any and all classrooms. Definitely get this for any girl leader in your life!

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Oof, this book is a heavy hitter, but also so important and so emotional and so good. It feels similar to We Are the Scribes by Randi Pink in how a young Black girl finds her voice and strength through the stories of Black women who came before them - in this case, Ida B. Wells-Barnett. I also loved the element of letters that were exactly what Indigo needed to hear in order to speak the truth and keep making noise, even as administration and her peers tried to silence her. Uncomfortable topics are just that - uncomfortable - but if we can’t have those conversations then nothing can change. And we need change, as Indigo makes clear with her recognition of the racist application of school policies to disproportionately punish Black and brown students. This story takes place over just a week, and what an intense week it is. I found this to be an unputdownable story and look forward to the stories Heather Murphy Capps will write in the future.

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