building a collection of Caribbean novels with the goal of having all students read at least one before graduation (with the future goal of one a year, when there are more options). I was excited to find another middle school novel with a Haitian character, and even better, A Song for Bijou does not fall into the typical tropes that "Haitian books" tend towards.
Set in Brooklyn, we meet Alex Schrader, a Catholic school boy who falls in love at first sight with Bijou Doucet, a recent Haitian immigrant. The novel follows the development of their first love: a sweet seventh grade love story that deals with cultural differences in addition to the usual middle school romantic drama.
I appreciated that author Josh Farrar gives readers a different example of a Haitian person; Bijou comes from an upper class background and learned English from watching "All My Children." In the book, Bijou complains that Americans view all Haitians as desperately poor, and this tends to be the case in the books I've read. It's really important for readers to see Bijou as someone who is just like them.
The writing isn't spectacular, but it was serviceable and didn't detract from the story. Of all the Caribbean literature I've read, A Song for Bijou is probably the most relatable to readers from around the world. I hope to find more books with Caribbean characters that break the stereotypes that are commonly put forth.