I just bought my copy of Jennifer Baszile’s book, “Black Girl Next Door,” the focus of NIOT Princeton’s next “Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege,” to be held on Monday, February 1, at 7:30 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library.

I am reading this book straight through; I can hardly put it down. It is the quintessential story of a black girl growing up in a mostly white Los Angeles suburb but it is also a compelling work, beautifully and evocativally written. The paperback version is $15 and I predict you will want to give it to each of your children, nieces, and nephews.

Here’s hoping you can attend on Monday night whether or not you have read the book yet. Also Baszile will read from and sign her book at Princeton Public Library on Sunday, February 7, at 2 p.m., as this town’s observance of the 21st Annual African American Read-in, sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English.

The book begins in first person with Jennifer, at six, winning a race against her best friend, who then informs her that black people have something in their feet that makes them run faster than white people. When the teacher agrees, Jennifer’s father has to set her straight. In trips to her grandparents in Louisiana and Detroit, she discovers her heritage. In her all-white classroom, blacks are portrayed only as downtrodden and enslaved. She wants to portray Harriet Tubman in a fifth grade “Parade of Heroes” but a wise teacher gently guides her, instead, to be Rosa Parks. She went on to earn her doctorate at Princeton University and be the first black female professor the history department at Yale.

It reads like a novel but it is a too-true story. You may remember Ntozake Shange’s “Betsey Brown,” the novel and the musical co-written and directed by Emily Mann nearly 20 years ago at McCarter Theatre. Betsey Brown was my favorite heroine, and she was fictional. Jennifer Baszile — and she is a real person — is my new favorite. Barbara Figge Fox