Book Review: This Is My America, by Kim Johnson

this is my america
Image belongs to Random House.

TitleThis Is My America
Author: Kim Johnson
Genre: YA
Rating: 4 out of 5

Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. After seven years, Tracy is running out of time—her dad has only 267 days left. Then the unthinkable happens. The police arrive in the night, and Tracy’s older brother, Jamal, goes from being a bright, promising track star to a “thug” on the run, accused of killing a white girl. Determined to save her brother, Tracy investigates what really happened between Jamal and Angela down at the Pike. But will Tracy and her family survive the uncovering of the skeletons of their Texas town’s racist history that still haunt the present?

This was compelling, sad, and uplifting. Sad because I know stuff like this actually happens. Compelling because Tracy’s determination and her willingness to keep fighting made the whole story sing. Uplifting because it’s always good to see good triumph over evil.

I live in Texas—born and raised—and I remember probably 30 years ago, a KKK rally happening in our town (Vaguely, and only by hearsay, because I was maybe 10 at the time and my parents would never have allowed us anywhere near that nonsense.), so it wouldn’t surprise me to see this situation play out. This also saddens me deeply but looking at it from the perspective of Tracy and her family made it especially heartbreaking. Solid, evocative writing and a captivating storyline will keep the reader glued to the pages of This is My America.

Kim Johnson is a college administrator and a mentor. This is My America is her debut novel.

(Galley courtesy of Random House in exchange for an honest review.)

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