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YA Author Brandy Colbert's Latest Novel The Voting Booth Teaches Black Teens Why Voting Matters faith health and home

Bestselling YA Author Brandy Colbert Teaches Black Teens Why Voting Matters with Latest Novel, The Voting Booth

 

 

With local elections always in play, and a huge presidential election looming just months away, it’s more important than ever to encourage our youth to get involved and cast their ballots in each and every election.  Because there’s never a bad time to start getting young people involved in the political process, why not hand them a copy of the newest YA novel from award-winning bestselling author Brandy Colbert, an all-in-one-day love story about two first- time teen voters who meet at their polling place and overcome obstacle after obstacle in order to cast a ballot in a critical election.

 

Brandy Colbert’s timely novel, The Voting Booth, is the perfect introduction to the significance of voting and voter suppression, one of the forefront civil rights battles of our time. With young people more politically engaged than ever, this accessible own voices story featuring two unforgettable African-American teens is sure to garner interest among teens and adults alike.

 

 

 About THE VOTING BOOTH:

Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election? Duke Crenshaw is do done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight.  Only problem? Duke can’t vote. When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right.  And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.

 

 

Booklist hails Colbert’s The Voting Booth as “warmly and appealingly addressing issues that many teens, especially those considering how their own first vote play out, are facing; with strong characterizations within the one-day scope that make [the book] a feat of storytelling, too.”

 

 

I spoke to Brandy to share more about The Voting Booth, and other ways to remind young voters to rock their votes in the 2020 presidential election.

 

Brandy Colbert interview faith health and home podcast makeba giles the voting booth book 444

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ve written several other books prior to The Voting Booth. How did your background in teaching affect your unique approach to storytelling and craft?

 

I’ve always written by instinct. I myself do not have a degree in writing. I studied journalism in college, but didn’t really take very many creative writing classes. Working with students and also with my fellow colleagues and faculty members has been eye-opening to me. I always come away inspired and ready to work on something new and more challenging.

 

 

Your most recent book, The Voting Booth, is very timely. What inspired you to write it – did you draw from your own experience with for the first time?

 

It is really timely. Much more timely than I thought it would be when I started writing it in late 2018. While I am not drawing on any personal experience thankfully, I come from a Black Southern family. I was raised in Missouri which is where I believe you are. And my parents are from rural Arkansas. They grew up on the tail end of Jim Crow like 50s, 60s and just knowing from a young age from them that the struggle to vote was very real in the south for Black people. It was always just ingrained in me from the beginning that I would be voting – there was no choice once I turned 18.

 

I’ve always taken that with me, but I also see voting as a way to honor my ancestors and all the Black people who came before me that were able to vote, or those who experienced voter suppression in the form of poll taxes and literacy tests. The face of voter suppression has certainly changed since then, but it’s still very much prevalent. So, I wanted to really give a voice to that.

 

Author Brandy Colbert

 

 

You mentioned you started writing this book in 2018. How does it feel to know that an idea for a book that conceptualized in your mind two years ago has now been released at a very timely point in our nation?

 

I knew that there were several unresolved issues that the Black community in particular has been dealing with for decades. So I knew that from that perspective, it would still be relevant, unfortunately. But I had no idea of what 2020 would look like. I don’t think many of us anticipated a global health crisis first of all. But beyond that, I did not expect the movement and uprising that the result of George Floyd’s death and Minneapolis.

 

It was really shocking as the year went on. I was thinking I actually had two books out this year, and about the best way to talk about a book in the middle of a pandemic. And then George Floyd’s murder happened, and everything just turned on its head. Suddenly there are all these protests and calls for actions, and a real reckoning with racism and more widespread efforts that I don’t think the country has seen in several decades.

 

Now everyone says how timely [the book] is. And I knew again that certain aspects of it would be, but I just had no idea. It speaks to a lot of how history repeats itself and how we really can’t move forward if we don’t know our history and deal with it. It’s really wild to me. I don’t feel great that it’s timely, but if it’s helping people with their conversations that they’re having today and highlighting real issues that they hadn’t thought about, then I’m very grateful for that.

 

 

We are seeing a vast increase of younger generations getting involved in social justice and fighting for equality. What do you feel is the value of teaching teens the importance of voting and speaking out against voter suppression; and getting involved in the fight for social justice?

 

More youth have been on the forefront of social change throughout the decades, but I think now, technology has changed a lot of how they view the world because they are able to see the news immediately in a way that we weren’t. When I was younger, we didn’t have social media. This generation gets the news in a way that is nonstop. That’s probably been inspiring them to try to make some change – seeing a constant stream of bad news and laws, and policies that are created to oppress the people you love. And then I would think the next reaction would be, what can I do to help change this?

 

Brandy Colbert interview faith health and home podcast makeba giles the voting booth book mmm

 

So, I wanted to write a book that really shows young voters that one vote does count. There’s so many issues that they can run into, but I wanted to show that it is so important to stick it out as long as you can and make your voice heard, because if you can’t get to the polls to vote for the people who will prevent issues like this from happening, then it’s just going to repeat. And just keep cycling through the next elections with the same kind of issue.

 

 

If you could pick just one thing for readers to take away from your book, The Voting Booth, what would it be?

 

One thing that would be is for them to use their voice. I think in the book, the characters talk a little bit about how that can happen. Even in this moment we’re in now, people might look at protests and think, “Well I’m not a brilliant person who can get out and protest.” Or maybe they’re compromised and can’t get out in the middle of the pandemic, whatever reason. Sometimes people get discouraged and think, “Well if I can’t get out with the masses and try to help incite change, what can I do?”

 

And there’s so much more that an individual can do – whether it’s canvassing, going door to door, or text banking, or phone banking, or sending postcards. Or just talking to family members and friends to encourage them to vote, or why they are voting for a particular candidate, and so on. Also, just staying informed about these issues. I wanted to make sure that young people who read the book realize that their vote and their voice really does count.

 

Brandy Colbert interview faith health and home podcast makeba giles the voting booth book 888

 

What words of inspiration and advice would you like to personally give to both young adults of voting age and parents about the current events in our nation right now, and how they can make a difference?

 

I would say, I would say to help where and when you can, and to have hope. That’s the main message of the book at the end, not to spoil anything. But it’s just hope. To do as much as you possibly can, help people who need it more than you, and just keep your hope alive. I don’t want to sound too corny or anything, but I really think that hope pulls us through.

 

And people who’ve been fighting for these same initiatives for decades, I don’t think they could have done it without hope. So yeah. I just think try as hard as you can and keep hope alive would be my message to today’s youth.

 

 

 

Brandy Colbert’s novel The Voting Booth is available at Amazon.com and everywhere books are sold. You can also connect with Brandy by visiting her website BrandyColbert.com, as well as Instagram and Twitter.

 

Brandy Colbert The Voting Booth

Makeba Giles is a Digital Content Producer and founder of Faith Health and Home, a digital space with information and resources for physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being to help families live an inspired lifestyle.

info@faithhealthandhome.com

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