Nominated by:

Jamaica Library Service, Kingston.

Publisher of nominated edition:

Blouse & Skirt Books, Jamaica


Florenz Webbe Maxwell      

A week ago, Desma Johnson had only two things on her mind – in exactly eight days, she would be sixteen years old and to top it off she was in line for a top scholarship, bringing her one step closer to her dreams. Life was perfect and nothing would get in the way of her birthday plans.

But it’s 1959 and the secret Progressive League has just announced a boycott of all cinemas in Bermuda in order to end racial segregation. As anxieties around the boycott build Desma becomes increasingly aware of the racial tensions casting a dire shadow over the island. Neighbours she once thought were friendly and supportive show another side. So, Desma must learn that change is never easy, and even when others expect small things from black girls, she has the right to dream big.

In this startling debut, Florenz Webbe Maxwell takes a little-known fact about Caribbean history and weaves an engaging tale that speaks eloquently to the contemporary experience. Girlcott takes you beyond the image of Bermuda as a piece of paradise and charts a narrative of resistance, hope and the importance of fighting for change.

About the author

Florenz Webb Maxwell was born in Bermuda. She received her inspiration to write while a student at the Central School. Her poem, A Song of Central, written at age 12, was later put to music by David Knights, another student at Central and became the school’s song. In 1972, she won first place for the Council on Interracial Books for Children Award for her manuscript, The Rock Cried Out. Her manuscript Girlcott won second place in the 2016 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. While a librarian, she served on the Coretta Scott Award, the Newbery Award, and the Americas Award. She has also served as a Writer in Residence at the Bermuda College where she taught a course in creative writing. She was also head of Children’s Services at Bermuda National Library. As a retired librarian, Ms. Maxwell is still in demand as a storyteller, especially for Bermuda folk tales.

(from publisher)

Librarian’s comments

Desma Johnson is a black Bermudian girl who is a week away from her 16th birthday. She’s a brilliant scholar, having earned the Empire Scholarship which brings her one step closer to her dream. Her father’s gift to her would be a class treat to the movies, but the secret Progressive League has announce a boycott of all cinemas to end racial segregation. Though upset, Desma must learn that change is never easy. In this debut, the author takes a little known fact about Caribbean history and weaves an engaging tale of resistance, hope and fighting for change.

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