Review: “A Girl’s Guide to Love & Magic” by Debbie Rigaud

Release Date: August 2, 2022
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult


Perfect for fans of The Sun Is Also a Star and Blackout, this YA novel from Debbie Rigaud is a celebration of Haitian and Caribbean culture, and a story of first love, vodou, and finding yourself, all set against the backdrop of the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn.

Cicely Destin lives for the West Indian Day Parade, the joyous celebration of Caribbean culture that takes over the streets of her neighborhood. She loves waving the Haitian flag, sampling delicious foods, and cheering for the floats. And this year? She’ll get to hang with her stylish aunt, an influencer known for dabbling in Haitian Vodou.

And maybe spot her dreamy crush, Kwame, in the crowd.

But fate has other ideas. Before the parade, a rogue, mischievous spirit seems to take possession of Cicely’s aunt during a spiritual reading. Cicely hardly knows anything about Vodou, or how to get someone un-possessed. But it’s up to her to set things right–and the clock is ticking. She’ll have to enlist the help of her quick-thinking best friend, Renee, and, as luck would have it…Kwame.

Cicely, her friends, and the reckless spirit who is now their charge set off on a thrilling scavenger hunt to gather the ceremonial items they need. And along the way, will Cicely discover surprising powers of her on?

Bestselling author Debbie Rigaud infuses this novel with sparkling wit, romance, and nuance that will keep readers riveted and enchanted.

My Thoughts

Pro: today is Cicely Destin’s 15th birthday. It’s also the West Indian Day Parade, her favorite day of the year. It seems like all of Brooklyn has converted into a massive carni­val, and Cicely wants to experience it all. Con: Cicely has to lie to her mom to sneak off with her estranged aunt. Mimose invited her niece to tag along to an interview with Cicely’s favorite rapper, but first a quick pit stop at a reading for a client. Things go spectacularly awry. The cli­ent tricks Mimose and she ends up possessed by a spirit Cicely believes is the lwa Erzuli. She gathers her bestie Renee and her crush Kwame, and the three teens set off on a wild ride across the big city to help free her aunt. A Girl’s Guide to Love & Magic by Debbie Rigaud is about growing up but not too fast, finding the courage to do what’s right instead of what’s easy, and dis­covering the power of community and heritage.

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