"Four hundred years, and we still ain't American to them, T. All that blood. We built America. Black labor built the greatest nation in the world for free." ~ pg. 298
I am often asked how I choose books to review. Easy answer: I review every book that I read from 5-star ratings down to DNF (did not finish). Then I am asked what grabs my attention the most? Another easy answer: the book cover, then the author, then the description and title. I have a very simple system. Then there are the rare times where all four (4) criteria is met upon first look. Thus the case for Kim Johnson's This Is My America.
Let's begin with the book cover: a beautiful black girl with perfectly arched brows, full lips painted in red matte lipstick, dangling earrings that look like a pair of handcuffs, hair braided with the slightest trace of baby hair blended into the red, white and blue stars and stripes of the U.S.A. flag. How fitting for the title: This Is My America. This is Kim Johnson's debut novel yet her leadership in social justice organizations and mentorship to Black student activists is known. I would say she is qualified to write about racial injustice against innocent Black men and the effect on their families left behind.
"My fists unclench. How long have I been holding myself ready to fight?" ~ pg. 377
Tracy Beaumont is a persistent 17-year-old. Every week she writes a letter to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father get off death row. He is an innocent Black man running out of time. Yet after seven years, Tracy remains hopeful. She knows her father is wrongly accused but it seems her efforts to free him is going unnoticed.
Then one night, police arrive pounding on the door ready to arrest Tracy's older brother, Jamal. Within minutes he goes from being a smart, promising track star to a thug on the run. Jamal is now accused of killing a white girl. A Black boy being seen hanging over a dead white girl's body is not good, even in present-day. Tracy is determined to save both her father and brother and investigates what really happened while uncovering a racist history in their small town.
No exaggeration, this debut novel deserves every bit of 5 hearts. From the first lines to the last word of Author's Note on page 398, it is gripping. This Is My America lived up to the hype. It is very well written and paced. Though it is fiction, it is very much an example of injustices in real life. That alone makes readers think whether young adult, grown, black or white. This Is My America is a literary revelation that I highly recommend!
Title: This Is My America
Author: Kim Johnson
Published: July 2020