FICTION

SLAY

Simon Pulse S. & S./. Sept. 2019. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534445420.
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Gr 7 Up–Kiera Johnson is a 17-year-old African American girl attending a predominately white high school. She tries to fit in by keeping her head down and her grades up. However, her classmates often see her as a reluctant spokesperson for an entire race of people. Her sister and boyfriend want her to be more combative, and her mother wants her to be more docile. Kiera’s best friend, Harper, often unwittingly adds fuel to the fire by asking pointed race-based questions of her own. The mental gymnastics involved in constantly having to code switch to fit in with everyone else’s idea of black womanhood is exhausting for Kiera. In an effort to keep her sanity, she secretly creates an exclusive online role-playing game called Slay. Characters duel using elaborately designed cards that highlight the diversity of the black experience. Kiera and her moderator, Cicada, manage to hide their identities while providing a much-needed respite for the black gaming community. Kiera’s carefully constructed facade is threatened when one of the players of Slay is murdered. Now Kiera has to decide how far she’s willing to go to protect the oasis she created for her community.
VERDICT  This book adds another layer to the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo narrative. Readers are invited to learn about the black experience in game culture through a compelling new lens. Exploring different versions of the African American experience, this is an important title for public and school libraries

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