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My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,348 ratings  ·  352 reviews
National Book Award-finalist Ibi Zoboi makes her middle-grade debut with an unforgettable character: Ebony-Grace Norfleet, the sci-fi-obsessed granddaughter of one of the first black engineers to integrate NASA. Set in Harlem in the early days of hip-hop, My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich is a moving and hilarious story of girl finding a place and a voice in a world that's ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 27th 2019 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.32  · 
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 ·  1,348 ratings  ·  352 reviews

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Hannah Greendale
DNF at page 14. Twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet is a confusing narrator and a pretty unlikeable character right out the gate. Her thoughts are so broken by her imagination that her narrative feels disjointed. There’s not much here in the way of setting, tone, or voice that suggests this book is intended for middle-graders.

Really disappointed not to have loved this, because the premise (a nerd-centric seventh-grader from Alabama, whose love of space and science-fiction stems from her grandf
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
I truly wish I could have liked this but it’s glacially slow moving and at times makes absolutely no sense. There is no real clear answer when it comes to Ebony-Grace. At times it seems like she might be autistic but nothing is ever confirmed so her character seems petulant and far, far younger than she is supposed to be. The adults are infuriating and the other kids are somehow worse. I can’t imagine any part of this book would work well for a middle grade audience considering how layered it is ...more
Monica **can't read fast enough**
MY LIFE AS AN ICE CREAM SANDWICH is a unique take on what it's like for a young Black girl who would rather live in her imagination than in reality to be uprooted from all that she knows and finds comfortable to be put in situations that are unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and at times overwhelming. Ebony-Grace is faced with the mysterious trouble that her grandfather finds himself in and like many children she is left to only guess and piece together what that trouble is instead of being told by an ...more
Feb 08, 2019 marked it as to-read
Zoboi tackles Middle Grade!!!

We have a cover.
This book sounds freakin' incredible y'all.
Please read the synopsis and add this to your TBRs.

The world needs more stories like this.

(Now I shall dismount my soapbox.)
Ms. Yingling
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it
ARC provided by Follett First Look

Ebony-Grace has a comfortable life in Alabama in 1984 with her mother and her grandfather, who was an engineer for NASA. When things start to go wrong with her grandfather, she is sent to visit with her father in Harlem. He runs an auto repair shop and loves his vibrant, if sometimes struggling, neighborhood. He thinks that Ebony should fit in well with the local children, who listen to rap music and are given a lot of freedom. Ebony, however, has had a sheltere
Ebony-Grace spends the summer with her father in Harlem. She has a wild imagination and she wants nothing more than to be with her grandfather who seems to be the other one to understand her.
I’ve always been kind of partial to ice cream sandwiches.
Ebony-Grace is given the derogatory nickname when the girls in her dad’s Harlem neighborhood decide she doesn’t have the “flava” to have one of their more delectable names.
Ebony-Grace (aka Space Cadet E-Grace Starfleet) has been raised by her mother and wealthy grandfather in Alabama. Her grandfather was one of the first black engineers employed by NASA, and he has nurtured her dreams of being the first kid in space, and her very active im
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
For someone who's not into science fiction, I enjoyed this story. Ebony-Grace is definitely a little weird to me, but what really is normal? Fans of SUNNY by Jason Reynolds will enjoy this quirky, Star Trek loving pre-teen. While I'm not a huge fan of Star Trek or sci-fi, I appreciated that this novel was set in the years of my childhood so I could relate to the references and the protagonist often reminded me of one of my favorite films set in Brooklyn. ...more
Yesenia Cash
My first middle grade book as an adult, I suppose I need to get touch with my imagination station, this just felt too repetitive to me.
Apr 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
I really hate giving one star reviews to books but this was a bit too strange and confusing to warrant much more. A young girl goes to live with her father in "New Joke City." The little girl spends her time pretending she is living in a fantasy world where everyone is from Star Trek. The plot is very strange and I wasn't quite sure how I was supposed to perceive the main character. Was she a special needs child? Was she just a zany girl? Regardless, the book is very hard to read and very nonsen ...more
Sep 22, 2019 added it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I like the idea, and I think I was supposed to understand that Ebony-Grace isn't neurotypical, but I thought the way it was done was very... over the top. I couldn't take her voice seriously. And I guess it doesn't have to be serious, because it's middle grade, but it was honestly annoying to have her start roleplaying in the middle of the narrative. And I also am not into science fiction, so while others might've found her nicknaming everyone (Bianca Pluto, Sirius Julius) I just found it... idk ...more
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
A lot of culture wrapped up in this one that I can get behind. There were also some sci-fi references that went over my head. The voice is super youthful, which for the most part is why I could not relate. That being said, this is definitely fitted for middle grades and I can see this connecting with young nerds of color!
Stephanie Fitzgerald
Disappointed; I just could not get into this one.
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it

This is a niche genre book - for readers who enjoy sci fi and fantasy with just a hint of realism. It's a graphic novel with elements of science fiction, fantasy, history and stream of consciousness writing. This is a book for a very special reader. It definitely won't appeal to everyone due to its unusual wordplay, but I can see this appealing to kids. I received this as an ARC book and I can't wait for it to join the shelves of my local library! Ebony Grace is such an adorable and fearless her
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-authors
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

This is such a charming story! Set in 1980's Harlem, it follows a Black girl from the South staying with her father for the summer and struggling to fit in. She has a big imagination, is more into space and Star Trek than fashion and double dutch, is hilariously sassy, and just has her own unique approach to seeing the world. She has always been close to her grandfather who worked as an engineer for NASA, but now something has happened and her mom has sent her to Harlem a
Apr 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
I received an ARC from the publisher courtesy of the SLJ'S Middle Grade Magic virtual conference in exchange for an honest review. I couldn't get behind this one. I'm not sure most middle grade readers will relate to Ebony Grace with ease. She's focused on imagining her life as a space mission in a way that removes her so far from reality, she can't relate to her peers. Additionally, it takes place in the 80's and leans heavily on some pop culture references (largely the original Star Trek serie ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mini Me Rating and review: “The cover of this book is amazing and so I knew I wanted it as soon as I saw it and the author was kind enough to sign it for me at the NTTBF. I live in the south so it was interesting reading about a character that is from the south like me. The book was funny and creative and I enjoyed the Star Wars and space references. And I loved the comic style illustrations. That was my favorite part. I give this book all the stars!”

Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this one, but I didn't connect with the characters or style. ...more
Brandy Painter
This is an interesting story about family troubles, friend troubles, and finding your place in community. It is quintessentially middle grade. It is a good book to have on hand for voracious readers of this story type. It takes place in the mid 1980s and is about an African American girl whose grandfather was one of the first African American NASA engineers. From him she has inherited a love for science-fiction and fantasy. Over a summer, she must learn to live without him as she visits her fath ...more
Abby Johnson
Ebony Grace would much rather be spending the summer at home with her granddaddy, one of the first black engineers to integrate NASA, but instead she's been sent to another planet - Harlem - to stay with her dad. Obsessed with all things space and especially Star Trek and Star Wars, E-Grace uses her imagination location to turn her summer trip into a mission for the starship Uhura, but the other kids in her neighborhood do NOT want to play along. Even Bianca, the girl who lives in her daddy's bu ...more
I spent the entire book absolutely furious with the adults.
Dec 09, 2019 added it
Woohoo! I did it!
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this, but I found it to be confusing and disjointed. The main character seems like she could be autistic, but it’s never stated. She is obsessed with space and can’t seem to branch out to relate to others without bringing space into it. She’s often extremely inappropriate in situations but without knowledge of if there is some sort of developmental delay she comes across as petulant and even rude. The plot finally gets going in the last few chapters but it felt really abr ...more
R. G. Nairam
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm sad that this fell kind of flat for me. I listened to Ibi Zoboi talk about it at a book festival and honestly was primed to like it.

I decided to write this review because I didn't find Ebony-Grace as challenging as a narrator as a lot of the other low reviews here have. She's imaginative, coping, and struggles to connect to her peers--I didn't really feel the need for her to be diagnosed in any other way. She also doesn't seem actively hostile, just awkward and selfish, which kids (and human
Hmm, I struggled with this one. I think that was intended--the voice here is really strong and gets you deep into Ebony-Grace's head, and she seems to be a character who's pretty clearly on the spectrum but, given that it's set in 1984, that word is never used. Instead her parents call her spoiled, fresh, tell her to stop playing around, etc etc etc. So I get that we felt left out of the story because her family was keeping things from her, but in the end it felt unsatisfying because there were ...more
Shauna Yusko
I cannot see this one working for the intended audience.

Nay Keppler
Oct 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Man, I love Ibi Zoboi, but I did not understand this book at all.
Wendi Lee
Ebony is spending the summer in Harlem with her dad, but she's having a hard time fitting in. She loves Star Trek, science fiction and space, and comes off as being too far out for the other kids on the block. Worse, she's not quite sure why she was sent away from Alabama, her mom, and grandfather. The separation from her grandfather, who encourages her love of math and science, is particularly heart-rending.

I had the same reaction to this as I did The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. While I know
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of those hard-to-rate books because because it's fabulous in some ways, and kind of awful in others. Honestly, Zoboi shoots for the stars and mostly misses. But I'd rather read a book that's sometimes confusing and boring, but occasionally brilliant and throught-provoking, and like nothing I've read before, than a just another well-written story that I'll forget two weeks after I've read it. Hence, four stars, even though I get all the people who've given it one or two, or DNF.

Update: here's
Kate Welsh
This has an incredibly vivid sense of time and place, and it's a beautiful illustration of a girl living in her own imagination as she struggles to find her place in the world. ...more
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Ibi Zoboi's debut novel American Street was a National Book Award finalist. She is also the New York Times Bestselling author of Pride, My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, and Punching the Air with co-author and Exonerated Five member, Yusef Salaam. She is the editor of the anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America. Born in Haiti and raised in New York City, she now lives in ...more

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