Garvey in the Dark

writ­ten by Nik­ki Grimes
Word­Song, Octo­ber 25, 2022

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Garvey in the Dark

Cap­tur­ing the shock and impact of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic through the eyes of Gar­vey, a beloved char­ac­ter, Nik­ki Grimes’s newest nov­el in verse shows read­ers how to find hope in dif­fi­cult times.

Garvey’s final­ly hap­py — he’s feel­ing close to his father through their shared love of music, bul­lies are no longer tor­ment­ing him, and his best friends Man­ny and Joe are by his side. But when the schools, stores, and restau­rants close because peo­ple are get­ting sick, Garvey’s improved life goes into lock­down as well. And when Garvey’s father gets sick, Gar­vey must find a way to use his new­found musi­cal skills to bring hope to both his father and him­self. Mov­ing, pow­er­ful, and beau­ti­ful­ly told, this remark­able nov­el shows read­ers how even small acts have large rever­ber­a­tions, how every per­son can make a dif­fer­ence in this world, and how — even in the most dif­fi­cult times — there are ways to reach for hope and healing.

Awards and Recognition

  • Kansas Nation­al Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion’s Read­ing Cir­cle Recommendation
  • Lee Ben­nett Hop­kins Poet­ry Award


Edu­ca­tor / Dis­cus­sion Guide

5 Books to Help Kids Face Our Fright­en­ing World,” Mah­naz Dar, Kirkus Reviews, 2 Feb­ru­ary 2023

Books That Cel­e­brate Love and African Amer­i­can His­to­ry Month,” Mary Quat­tle­baum, Wash­ing­ton Par­ent, 30 Jan­u­ary 2023

Nikki Grimes


Grimes con­veys many of the ele­ments spe­cif­ic to Black life in 2020, focus­ing on how fam­i­lies adapt­ed to Covid, not know­ing whether a last­ing res­o­lu­tion would arrive. [T]his story…tackles themes of fam­i­ly, friend­ship, grief, and cop­ing with injus­tice and will inspire dia­logue about this chaot­ic peri­od as well as a sense of hope and heal­ing. A way for young peo­ple to reflect on a trou­bled time. (Kirkus Reviews)

With poignant clar­i­ty and in ele­gant verse, Grimes calls up the con­fu­sion, hope, and fear of the begin­ning of the pandemic…this offers a com­pelling chance to reflect on the dis­com­fort of liv­ing through what will sure­ly become fraught his­to­ry. (Bul­letin of the Cen­ter for Chil­dren’s Books)

Writ­ten in sequences of five-line tan­ka poems, a haiku-like form, this verse nov­el trans­ports read­ers back to the ear­ly pan­dem­ic months through Garvey’s expe­ri­ences. The poems vivid­ly express his thoughts and emo­tions as he, his fam­i­ly, and his friends deal with unwant­ed changes in their lives as well as the under­ly­ing dread of COVID-19. This engag­ing sequel will res­onate with many read­ers. (Book­list)

In this com­pan­ion to “Garvey’s Choice,” mas­ter poet Nik­ki Grimes fol­lows her beloved char­ac­ter as he and his fam­i­ly deal with Covid-19 and the lock­downs in ear­ly 2020 in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, where he lives. This may seem like a chal­leng­ing sub­ject, but Grimes’ short, acces­si­ble poems allow the read­er to con­nect both with Garvey’s wor­ries and stress—and their own mem­o­ries and ongo­ing con­cerns. This time­ly, mov­ing nov­el in verse may encour­age young peo­ple to share their own feel­ings about the pan­dem­ic out loud and in writ­ing. (Wash­ing­ton Par­ent)

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Read more about Garvey