The Cost of Knowing

S. & S. Apr. 2021. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534445451.
Gr 8 Up–After a tragic accident that left him and his brother orphaned, Alex Rufus sees visions of the future connected to items that he touches—from a mundane object being used over and over to the tragic preview of his best friend’s death. Alex avoids physical contact as often as possible but knows that once he sees a vision it can’t be changed no matter what he does. He has developed methods of coping, but when he sees the death of his younger brother, Isaiah, in a vision, he knows he must do something to try to break this curse of knowledge. As Alex gets to know his brother better in his last days, he learns that Isaiah also carries a curse: being able to relive the past of their ancestors. Passed down from father to son, over hundreds of years, this is their family’s long-held secret. Alex and Isaiah must face who they are and what they fear most in order to break their curses. The story is rich with magical elements in the form of generational trauma that Black families carry with them, and the real danger of existing while being Black in America. The brothers face racism from their white neighbors despite “good intentions.” The story is important, timely, and gives representation in a novel that is about both Black joy and pain.
VERDICT Readers who are looking for books like Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and Nic Stone’s Dear Martin will gravitate towards this book. An important addition to every young adult collection.

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