A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Sani shares the Diné (Navajo) creation story and its Four Worlds with Moth and the Notes section offers a brief description of Hoodoo (often known as Rootwork), a magic system that was created in South and melded West African spiritual traditions and Christianity. Its "ultimate goal is to shift the odds in your favor through ancestral worship, offerings, and work with herbs and plants." Moth and Sani's road trip includes stops at Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, where they visit the plantation's quarters for enslaved workers and the Fort Smith National Historic Site in Arkansas, a crossroads for the Trail of Tears (a term that refers to President Andrew Jackson's forced removal of the Cherokee nation from their lands east of the Mississippi River to present-day Oklahoma in 1838-39).
Shows the power of friendship and how connecting with your heritage can be an empowering and transforming experience.
Positive Role Models
Both Moth and Sani are emotionally damaged and fragile. Their characters remind readers of the importance of being kind and accepting toward students who may be "different" and face challenges that make it difficult for them to fit in.
Moth is Black and Sani has a White mother and a Navajo father who's a Medicine Man and healer. Moth's classmates (her school is 94 percent White) never speak to her, but readers will learn that the reason for their silence has nothing to do with racism. Sani never blends in with his mother's new family, as her White husband is emotionally and sometimes physically abusive toward him. The author writes at length about Moth and her grandfather's practice of Hoodoo and the Diné (Navajo) Creation Story.
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Violence & Scariness
In "Things My Grandfather Taught Me About the South," the author writes, "When Black people stepped out of line they were broken & when they stepped out again photographs were taken of their burning bodies & crafted onto postcards." A teen is emotionally abused and hit in the head by his stepfather.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
When Sani and Moth stay at motels during their trip, they share a single bed. But it's for emotional comfort and nothing sexual ever happens.
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Products & Purchases
The Notes section of the novel includes a list of the 12 songs on "Moth and Sani's Road Trip Playlist" -- everything from Regina Spektor's "Samson" and Jacob Banks' "Monster 2.0" to classics like "I'll be Seeing You," by Billie Holiday, and Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood."
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Brief mentions of adults drinking and smoking cigars. Sani sometimes smokes cigarettes and takes a prescription drug (blue-and-white pills) that is never specifically identified.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Amber McBride' Me (Moth) was a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award for Young People's Literature. The novel is written in free verse and told in the voice of Moth, a Black teen girl who's lost her family in a car accident and is now living unhappily in Virginia with her aunt. Moth's strongest emotional connection is with her deceased grandfather, who practiced Hoodoo, a magic system that highlights the strength and power of ancestors. She's feeling desperately lost and alone at her new high school until she meets Sani, who's left his Navajo father in New Mexico to live unhappily with his White mother and her new family. A road trip, believes Moth, is what they need to break the grip that depression and isolation has on them both -- it's "a thing you go on and come back different." They decide to run away to the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, hoping that the trip through the South and Southwest will reconnect them with the ghosts of their Black and Native American ancestors. There's no sex or swearing, but a teen is emotionally abused and hit in the head by his stepfather.
Is It Any Good?
Written in lean and spare free verse, this story about grief, friendship, and the search for identity is rich, vibrant, haunting and unforgettable. For many readers, Me (Moth) will be their first introduction to Hoodoo and Native American creation stories. This may lead to family discussions about the importance of learning about and respecting other traditions.
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