One of the Good Ones

HarperAudio. 2021. 949p. $26.99. ISBN 9781488209222.
Gr 7 Up–On Kezi Smith’s 18th birthday, she was excited to attend her first in-person social justice rally after building a large YouTube following from videos sharing her thoughts about social justice. Kezi is arrested at the rally, then dies as a result of police brutality, and the book slowly reveals what happened that day. As they continue to mourn Kezi, her parents reluctantly give their two other daughters, Genny and Happi, permission to travel Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles, stopping along the way to visit locations identified by Kezi in the Negro Motorist Green Book and providing updates and historical information for Kezi’s YouTube channel. One of the stops is the bridge where their great-grandfather was lynched when his family ran out of gas in a sundown town. Throughout the journey, Happi learns more about her sister and struggles with the distance she had placed between them that she always hoped would be fixed with more time. In addition to Kezi’s and Happi’s perspectives, readers also hear from the girls’ grandmother, Evelyn, and from another young girl in L.A., Shaqueria, who is trying to make it as an actress. Bahni Turpin, Jordan Cobb, and Carolyn Smith narrate the multiple voices in the novel making each one instantly recognizable as they take turns.
VERDICT A powerfully engaging read that gives voice to a variety of Black female experiences and provides not only a modern perspective but also the history that influences lives today. Recommendation to purchase both print and audiobook versions.

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