Five Reasons to Read: Keeping It Real by Paula Chase – Hip Hop Fashion, Family, Fitting In and Privilege Collide In This MG/YA Contemporary


Marigold Johnson can’t wait to attend a special program at her family’s business, Flexx Unlimited, for teens who love fashion. But Mari quickly realizes that she’s out of place compared to the three other trainees–and one girl, Kara, seems to hate her on sight.

As tension builds and the stakes at the program get higher, Mari uncovers exactly why Kara’s been so spiteful. She also discovers some hard truths about herself and her family.

Paula Chase explores complex themes centering on friendships, family, and what it means to conform to fit in. Keeping It Real is also a powerful exploration of what happens when parents pick and choose what they shield their children from. Timely and memorable, Paula Chase’s character-driven story touches on creativity, art, fashion, and music. A great choice for the upper middle grade audience. 

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced story about hip hop fashion and friendship as well as a story that explores the complex intersections of Black identity and class, then Keeping It Real by Paula Chase is a great choice, and will certainly engage young readers and will resonate with Black readers.

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