The Voting Booth

Book review by
Barbara Saunders, Common Sense Media
The Voting Booth Book Poster Image
Fast-paced novel about teens' quest to cast votes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers learn why it's important to vote, what they might experience on Election Day, and how to overcome obstacles that threaten their ability to cast their vote. There's one subplot about dealing with grief and another about coping with divorce. 

Positive Messages

You count, and you can make a difference. Voting is one of the most powerful ways to do that.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters are academically and civically engaged Black youth, with families who support and encourage them. There are positive role models for the responsible use of social media, along with some subtle cautionary incidents.

Violence

Two gun deaths of young men figure in the plot.

Sex

A couple of romantic kisses, a little talk about being a virgin.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," and "damn" are used several times.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A party where older teens drink. While under the influence of vodka, one young man says something to a friend that he comes to regret.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that in The Voting Booth, by Brandy Colbert (The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, The Only Black Girls in Town), two Black 18-year-olds meet at a polling place where they're to cast their first votes ever. Duke is turned away, his voting site having changed because he moved after his parents' divorce. Marva leads him on a quest to cast that ballot, despite a broken-down car, a polling place that runs out of ballots, and a missing cat. Two gun deaths of young men figure in the plot. There's a party where older teens drink. While under the influence of vodka, one young man says something to a friend that he comes to regret. There are a couple of romantic kisses and a little talk about being a virgin. There's some strong language ("f--k," "s--t," and "damn" used several times).

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What's the story?

When THE VOTING BOOTH begins, it's Election Day. Marva, an 18-year-old activist who's been working to get out the vote, will be casting her ballot for the first time. While at the polling place, she sees another kid her age being turned away. Duke's family recently moved, and he's gone to the wrong site. She persuades him to skip school so that they can get to his polling place as early as possible, in case there are long lines or other glitches. The clock is ticking: Duke needs to get finished with voting in time to make it to his band's first paid gig. The pressure mounts when Marva's dad calls to tell her that the family cat, Selma, has gone missing. The two new friends launch a campaign to find her through the cat's social media account.

Is it any good?

This fast-paced tale stays lighthearted while broaching serious topics, including grief, gun violence, and the urgency of voting. In The Voting Booth, author Brandy Colbert brings us two relatable, positive main characters: a determined young woman who's as passionate about her community as she is about her beloved cat, and a sensitive, lovable young man whose self-awareness grows with every chapter. The one weakness of the story is stereotypical presentation of a couple of side characters, especially a White boyfriend who just doesn't "get" the implications of his privilege.    

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the theme of solidarity in The Voting Booth. How do the parents, friends, siblings, and community members stand up for each other?

  • The Voting Booth alternates between Marva's point of view and Duke's. How did the two perspectives help you understand the story?

  • Marva and Duke use social media in numerous ways. How do you use social media?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories about voting and social media tales

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