In this magical middle grade novel, ten-year-old Gabrielle finds out that America isn’t the perfect place she imagined when she moves from Haiti to Brooklyn. With the help of a clever witch, Gabrielle becomes the perfect American—but will she lose herself in the process? Perfect for fans of Hurricane Child and Front Desk.
It’s 1985 and ten-year-old Gabrielle is excited to be moving from Haiti to America. Unfortunately, her parents won’t be able to join her yet and she’ll be living in a place called Brooklyn, New York, with relatives she has never met.
She promises her parents that she will behave, but life proves to be difficult in the United States, from learning the language to always feeling like she doesn’t fit in to being bullied. So when a witch offers her a chance to speak English perfectly and be “American,” she makes the deal.
But soon she realizes how much she has given up by trying to fit in and, along with her two new friends (one of them a talking rat), takes on the witch in an epic battle to try to reverse the spell.
Gabrielle is a funny and engaging heroine you won’t soon forget in this sweet and lyrical novel that’s perfect for fans of Hurricane Child and Front Desk.
Marie Arnold was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and came to America at the age of seven. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York alongside her extended family. Marie enjoys creating stories full of adventure and wonder that center on girls of color. When she’s not writing, she’s adding to her insanely long Netflix queue and trying not to order pizza. She lives in Los Angeles, California. She is the author of The Year I Flew Away and I Rise.
"This refreshing middle-grade story offers a 'new kid' narrative that defines the heart of what it means to be American in today’s world. Arnold champions the beauty and complexity of Gabrielle's culture, which is intensified by Caribbean mysticism, an unlikely (yet highly influential) character, and the bustling backdrop of the City of Dreams. The beauty of this book lies in its depiction of not only the joy and excitement but the sacrifice and weight of immigration for young people. Arnold is thorough and intentional in fleshing out what it means for Gabrielle to support her family back in Haiti, which heightens the stakes of her choices, making readers even more deeply invested into her success. This book will shift the notion of what exactly it means to be Black, to be an immigrant, and to fit in and be accepted." -- Booklist, starred review
"Arnold skillfully fuses distinct immigrant experiences with the supernatural to express a universally felt desire for belonging....Gabrielle is a charming narrator, and of course, good guy (girl) magic wins out in the end, but the threat to immigrant lives and identities is presented poignantly nonetheless in this richly imaginative origin story of one Haitian American girl that offers a fantastical take on immigrant narratives." -- Kirkus, starred review
"Readers will find themselves unable to set the book down during the final chapters. The characters are well developed—even the school bully—and the prejudices that Gabrielle both witnesses and experiences are portrayed in a way that is frank and easy to understand. The interpersonal relationships and fantasy elements complement each other well, and Arnold navigates skillfully between the two....A fantasy adventure combined with a loving portrayal of Haitian culture and immigrant experiences creates an action-packed story with a lot of heart." --School Library Journal
"Balancing realistic and fantastical elements, Arnold’s astute debut asks hard questions about what it means to be an American and who is considered one." --Publishers Weekly
[H] Versify / February 02, 2021
1.1" H x 8.4" L x 5.5" W (0.79 lbs) 256 pages
[P] Versify / September 20, 2022
0.57" H x 7.53" L x 5.21" W (0.39 lbs) 256 pages
For children ages 8-12