The Weight of Blood

HarperCollins/Katherine ­Tegen. Sept. 2022. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780063029149.
Gr 9 Up–Inspired by a Georgia school whose first integrated prom was in 2014, Jackson’s nod to Stephen King’s Carrie incorporates racially charged social justice themes into a narrative featuring her signature twisty suspense. Madison Washington is biracial, but her uber-religious abusive father passes her as white since her mother is dead. He insists that “no one can ever know” about her natural hair that he hot combs weekly. After she’s caught in a rainstorm and her secret is exposed, she is bullied and harassed by her classmates for being Black. This viral video incident awakens an energy within her; desks in the classroom levitate but the incident is reported as an “earthquake.” White classmate Wendy tries to merge the school’s white and Black proms into an integrated prom, so she can attend with her Black football star boyfriend, Kenny. She later encourages Kenny to take Maddy to the prom—but she doesn’t count on Kenny developing feelings for Maddy. Meanwhile, the mean girl crowd arranges sinister plans for prom night, and Maddy’s telekinetic powers emerge again as the prom erupts in fiery, bloody chaos. Supernatural portions of the book are explosive and riveting, with the racist realistic parts are even more horrifying. A content warning is advised for racism, bullying, colorism, child abuse, gore/violence, police brutality, and racial slurs. The non-linear, fast-paced plot also includes true crime podcast elements, news clips, and witness testimonies.
VERDICT Readers will be hooked from page one of Maddy’s intense journey that detonates on prom night.

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