We Deserve Monuments

Roaring Brook. Nov. 2022. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250816559.
Gr 9 Up–Seventeen-year-old biracial teen Avery (Black and white) has just broken up with her girlfriend and best friend of five years after too many ugly racist microaggressions, leaving her with a sense of relief at ditching such a toxic relationship. The frantic pace of school and looming early admissions application to Georgetown are put on hold when she follows her parents to small-town Bardell, GA, to care for her dying maternal grandmother, Mama Letty, whom she has never met. Racial tensions and mystery abound in this community, piling rumors on half-truths, keeping Avery’s head spinning while searching for someone to explain the facts. She tries to navigate her mother’s vicious relationship with Mama Letty, deeply hurt by the never-ending hostility and bitterness between them. Unexpected friendships with two local girls offer Avery new perspectives and opportunities. Ultimately, Avery must choose her own path, find her unique voice, and balance the facts of people’s messy histories with the good they do. This book pulls no punches, delving deeply into racial tensions, whitewashing of ugly truths, homophobia, and justice left undone. Yet, there is a lightness, humor, and catharsis for characters and readers despite the heavy subject matter.
VERDICT Hammonds delivers a breathtaking exploration of vital issues wrapped up in a mystery, challenging readers to reexamine their own truths. A must-purchase for all libraries serving high school readers.

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