This was another book I read for the Barnes & Noble YA Book Club. I have to say, it was completely different than what we thought it was going to be. Somehow, we got the idea it was going to be some sort of post-apocalyptic or dystopian thing. Instead, we got a very real look, in fiction form, at reality.
Campbell is a white girl from Pennsylvania who has been tossed into a high school in Georgia city. Lena is a black girl who’s lived her whole life in this Georgia city and knows full well how the police and everyone else there sees black people.
During the course of the book, Lena calls Campbell on her naivety when it comes to how the police and black people get along in their city. She calls Campbell on her views about black people. But Campbell calls Lena on her own views about white people.
Campbell is naive when it comes to how other races are profiled and she makes assumptions about the black people she lives around. There is no mistake about that. But her assumptions come more from what her father has said than from her own experiences with those people. Just a reminder that racism is learned/taught, not something people are born with.
Lena, however, is just as bad. She has her assumptions about white people – such as that they are rich. Again, she’s been taught that white people are the way she thinks they are.
The riots in the book are realistic. They are taken almost directly from the news media. They show how things are. They show how even white people can be pulled in and how they can end up seeing things from a different perspective.
There is one things that bugs me about this book – Black. That boy needs a swift kick in the butt. The literal only time he really, truly has Lena’s back is toward the end of the book. I won’t say why/how, because that would be a spoiler. But I will say, I’ll be surprised if you like him. None of us at the book club did.
I gave this book 5 stars because it is a gripping book. It may be slow to start, but that was more of being used to hearing people talk like Lena does rather than reading it. But once you get into the action portions, you’ll forget all about Lena’s style of speaking and be totally sucked in, wondering what will happen.
I think fans of The Hate U Give will really like this book.