Cover Image: This Is My America

This Is My America

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Why hasnt this book existed before today. I can't beleive how good this story was. I will be screaming from the roof top how great this story is.
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Tracy tries to get representation for her father who is wrongfully imprisoned and sentenced to death. With less than a year before he is scheduled to die, Tracy’s father is running out of time. As Tracy tries to navigate an appeal, two very different boys vie for her affection, and her brother is on the run to avoid arrest for a crime he did not commit. This is a heartbreakingly honest portrayal of the unfair treatment of Blacks in the US. It is a timely novel and a must read for ms/hs teachers and their students.
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This book was outstanding! I couldn’t read it fast enough. So many emotions. This is My America covers powerful and absolute vital issues that are and have been going on in our country. Johnson weaves this story perfectly, drawing you in from the first page and leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat until the very end, all the while you’re walking away with knowledge that every person needs to hear and learn. This needs to be on everyone’s TBR. I highly, highly recommend this book!
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I received an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!

CW: racism, death penalty, murder, KKK attack, past lynching, absence of a parent due to jail, and general tension

I guess YA contemporary fiction really is my genre, because the more that I read, the more I like it. Didn't quite expect that! But this book was fantastic. I can't believe that this is a debut and I hope that so many people pick it up. It fits in with so many of the antiracism books I've been reading to educate myself about something that desperately needs change. I loved that Johnson included a reading list in the back because, uh, I'll be reading those!

Tracy's father is on death row and she's desperately been trying to get an innocence group, Innocence X, to take up his case to prove that he didn't kill anyone. Then someone in her town is murdered and her older brother, Jamal, is the prime suspect and goes on the run. Suddenly, it's not just about proving her father's innocence but also her brother's.

This book tackles so many things I've read about and it's horrifying that this happens, but it's not surprising with how much I've read. I'm so glad that this book opens up a bridge to discuss this topic for teens who want to engage more with the corrupt justice system that is in America. Of course, there have been other books that tackle police brutality (books that I'm going to read because I obviously need to read more ownvoices books on these topics) but I haven't found one about this part of the legal system. It was beautifully written and I loved the characters, as well as the story.

Overall, I'm glad that this book exists for Black (and other BIPOC) teens so they can see themselves and their experiences in a book. It's so important to have representation, especially for teens who are going through this and need a way to process this. That's how I feel with books featuring trans characters and written by transpeople. It's needed, especially since this book has resources in the back. I hope that this book gets blown up and sold out like a lot of other YA books (and nonfiction books) written by Black authors did a couple of months ago. I know that this one's going to be one I recommend often to people.
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This Is My America is not your typical YA book I requested it from NetGalley because I heard about it from a colleague. Although is is fiction, it deals with current events in a way that I believe many young people will understand and feel connected to. The characters are well developed and are truly relatable. Tracey and the other characters in the book deal with issues that are in the news daily. The author gives the teens positive ways in which they are able to impact their community. I can see this book being used in high schools to help give students a voice to what they may be feeling during this turbulent times.
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Another powerful BLM story for teens! Can't wait for publication so I can add it to my library and get it into kids' hands.

Tracy Beaumont's life revolves around saving her father from being wrongly executed after spending the past seven years on death row. She writes weekly letters to Innocence X - a project that helps exonerate the wrongly convicted, but with less that a year until the execution she knows time is running out. Then the unimaginable happens when the police show up at her house in the middle of the night looking for her brother Jamal as a suspect in the death of a white girl. Instead of being the promising track star, Jamal is now literally on the run for his life. Determined to save both her brother and father, Tracy becomes an amateur investigator and ultimately uncovers secrets even she didn't expect.
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This Is My America had me flipping pages nonstop from beginning to end. It's perfectly paced, with all the twists and tension of a fantastic thriller, but the story is also filled with complex characters, layered teen relationships while exploring the often corrupt nature of small-town politics, racial inequality, and the town's corrupt justice system. And throughout, the story is peppered with one-liners that made me chuckle and tender moments between characters that had a lump in my throat. Recommend highly, 5/5
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This Is My America is an incredibly relevant story for the current movements and conversations taking place surrounding systematic racism in America. I was instantly invested in the story from the first chapter and I couldn't put it down. Johnson excels at writing a compelling book while weaving a meaningful message throughout its story beats. 

The story is mainly focused on Tracy's efforts to clear her brother's name and to get InnocenceX to help get her innocent father off death row. When her pursuit of justice leads to confronting the truth about her town and it's occupants, Tracy's hunt for the truth becomes even more important.

One of my favorite things about this story is that it really shows all the types of racism that fall under the umbrella of systematic racism. As Tracy investigates the murder, readers see first-hand the way she combats the many faces of racism, some people are bold while others are quiet & micro aggressive and Johnson does a good job of highlighting why quiet racism is just as harmful as bold racism.  It's even discussed in a way that is easily recognizable throughout the story and really does a good job showing how racism permeates throughout all the systems in America.

Another I enjoyed about this story was that the characters were all varied in their experiences and in personality. While many side characters have stereotypical personalities at some points, each of them have these incredible strengths that enable them to support Tracy throughout her investigation. The story itself starts off feeling more like a teen drama but then as events happen it starts getting more twisted. Characters that seemed one way would turn out to be totally different then the audience expected. Other characters show their true colors the entire time and are still used in the narrative to show how multi-faceted racism in America is.

However, I was glad that the villain was never a surprise nor were they sympathetic in any way. I’d read in one of Leah Johnson’s (author of You Should See Me in a Crown) tweets, she discussed how when it comes to racists in stories, there is no need to make them multidimensional because there are evil people in the world who exist to uphold a racist system. In this story there are plenty of multi-dimensional characters, the villain is not one of them. That character solely exists to uphold white supremacist values and show just how dangerous the rhetoric of the far-right is. 

Overall I felt the story was told well, it blended the elements of mystery & taking down racist systems in ways I haven’t seen many YA novels tackle. This Is My America stands apart from its other YA mystery counterparts because Johnson doesn’t hesitate to talk about the very real and ugly side of America that many readers either don’t know about or want to think about. I’d highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good contemporary novel that discusses social justice issues with a side of mystery.
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This is My America is an incredibly timely story that should be on every library and classroom shelf. Like The Hate U Give, this book will connect to readers and represent teens who feel like they've never been seen before. The story is perfectly paced and suspenseful. A blend of social justice and YA thriller, this novel will keep readers turning pages.
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This book is certainly being released at the time for it to make a maximum impact.

Tracy is rightfully obsessed with getting her dad off of death row.  After all, he has less than a year, and her family doesn't have anything left to fund an appeal.  

Jamal, her track star brother, gives her a chance to appear on national TV, and she steals his spotlight while hoping to attract a lawyer, leading to tension in the family.  And then the police show up in the middle of the night, looking to arrest Jamal for murder.  

This book delves into what it means to dig into your past, as well as what the "justice" system actually looks like for Black people.  

There is a lot for teachers to use in this title, especially paired with non-fiction titles like The New Jim Crow or Just Mercy, or other fiction titles like Dear Martin, The Hate you Give, or The Black Kids.
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Oh my, where to begin... this book is brilliant! I kept abandoning my family and my to-do list in favor of a few more pages of this wonderful book. "This is My America" is a timely reminder of the failures of the American justice system and the steps we still need to take to do better. At the same time it is a compulsively readable mystery with romance, family, and secrets. Packaged all together - you will have a difficult time putting this one down. 

Tracy is a high school junior in Galveston County, Texas. She is a columnist for her school paper and leads workshops in the community related to social justice. She is part of a tight-knit, loving family, but she only gets to see her dad once or twice a week because he is on death row in Texas penitentiary for a crime he didn't commit. Tracy writes weekly to Innocence X in the hopes of attaining their help to turn over his wrongful conviction before it is too late; Tracy's father's sentence is to be carried out in about 9 months. Then, as if things weren't already looking grim for the family, Tracy's older brother is accused of a violent crime against a local girl and is on the run. Tracy immediately knows something is fishy about the situation and starts digging into what really happened with the help of her friends. But, their investigation digs up some secrets it seems some members of the small town will do anything to keep buried. Tracy can only hope she finds enough to help her brother and hopefully still get help to save her dad. 
P.S. Be sure to read through Kim Johnson's terrific acknowledgements for a great list of further reading and resources used in the writing of the book. 

Don't wait to get your hands on this beautiful book! Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children's for an ARC of this title in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this novel.

This is one powerful book, guys. It's been a few months since I've read it, but it has stayed with me since, especially in light of what is going on now. 

Tracy is a high school student who is trying to get Innocence X to re-evaluate her father's case for a crime he didn't commit. He is sitting on death row with only so many months and Tracy is desperate. At the same time, her brother is also accused of a crime Tracy is sure he wasn't apart of. 

I could not put this book down. It captured my attention from the very first chapter and was a fast paced story from the very beginning. There were so many twists and turns, and they were executed perfectly. Johnson doesn't hold back on the injustices African Americans face, especially when it comes to crime. I've also got to note that everyone should read her acknowledgments. Johnson recommended so many other books that deal with a lot of different topics and I've added most of them to my TBR pile.
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This is the book that I did not know I needed. It is as if this was destined to come about/release during this time of high racial tensions. Kim Johnson does a phenomenal job of breathing life into the characters of the book. This follows the story of teenager, Tracy Beaumont (shout out to Texas), her father on death row, her brother who was athlete-turned-suspect, and several others. Tracy was set to work with a fellow student, Angela, on an exposé, but Angela's death put an abrupt halt to it. As a result, Tracy is having to take on additional tasks to prove her brother's innocence, plead for her father to be taken off death row and exonerated, while having to deal with the realities of being Black in a neighborhood/school that caters to the white citizens.  As a native-Houstonian, I can easily put myself in the position of the characters, and it broke my heart/allowed me to feel their emotions. 

This is My America highlights the realities of Black people around the country, as we are guilty until proven innocent. Several men, women, and children are unjustly arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death (despite lack of evidence) simply because of their background/the color of their skin. This book hit me hard in a way that so many other books have not. I will make it a point to bring this into the classroom, because this is a book that the Black Youth in America needs. As a secondary teacher, there is not one student that I have taught that knows their rights or what to do when they approached by police. This book motivated me to organize sessions/lessons for students to know their rights and what to do in particular situations. I know there is no way that I could not keep this book on my bookshelves.
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This book was amazing! This book follows Tracy who is on a mission to free her dad who is on death row for murder and he is innocent. This book is one I couldn't put down and everyone needs to read. This book sheds a big ass light on what we are living in the US. 

5 Stars I would give more if I could.

Thank you to the publisher for this arc in exchange for my honest opinion
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This is a must-read, especially in our current political climate. A perfect book that brings to light the truths of what happens when society thinks so little of black people and so highly of police officers. The paragraphs and conversations about race, class, and justice are phenomenal. Kim Johnson brings the conversations to the forefront and refuses to shy away from the truth. 

As someone who lives in Texas, I think that this is a fair representation of small towns. There are usually only a few black people in these towns and they are looked at as a circus act. I think that the KKK and white supremacy groups were a necessary aspect to this novel because Texas has a lot of people who think like that and take actions to try and make the world more white. 

I also felt that the romantic dynamic was very well thought out. The fact that Tracy struggles with possibly being with a white boy is very realistic and her fears are valid. Although it almost felt like a love triangle between Dean and Quincy, I think it was a very real portrayal of having to choose sides. In the midst of Tracy's traumatic teenage years, she is not only having to try and save her family from a corrupt police department, but she is also trying to figure out if she could be more than friends with a white boy or does she choose to be with a boy who understands the experience of being black and will not question the way she goes about things when it comes to the law. 

This was a novel that I will not soon forget. It is powerful, important, and a conversation starter.
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Really good necessary read in the present climate. 

Tracy tries to find help for her wrongly imprisoned father while falling in love with a white boy and learning the dark history of the community in which they both live. Trying to navigate the challenges of present and past clashing, her brother gets caught up in it, too. 

Looking for justice, peace and love - Tracy's story is one that unfortunately rings true to many today.
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What Kim Johnson manages in This is My America is to blend the Nancy Drew and One of Us is Lying mysteries with topics of actual substance. 

Tracy Beaumont writes Innocence X every week attempting to get them to take her father’s case and save him for him death sentence, which is less than a year away. In the midst of this all, someone else close to her gets caught up in a new murder.  

Race with Tracy as she fights to save her family and begins to uncover dark secrets about her town and people she knows.  Along the way, the reader also gets schooled in the work covered in Just Mercy, white supremacy, and the rise, or maybe just the newly public, of hate in America. This is one you can’t put down! 

Perfect to pair in a classroom with Just Mercy.
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This was an amazing read that gave me chills. A murder mystery that puts the spotlight on systemic racism and mass incarceration while exploring the hideous affects of white supremacy in a small town. The relationships and character development are dynamic and well thought out. Tracy, the teenage narrator, uses her investigative journalist skills to exonerate her father of a murder she knows he didn't commit. I found myself both terrified for her while cheering her on (and angered that she couldn't go to the police). 
I read this book over a couple of days and couldn't put it down for the final 40%.
The author's note at the end is well worth reading.
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WOW. I don't cry with books or even get emotional, but this one almost brought me to tears. This Is My America is a raw, unflinching look at how the criminal justice system is not set up to help Black Americans, especially those incarcerated. This book looks at the toll that takes on Black families and Black communities when their loved ones are sent away into a prisoner system that relies on keeping them there, and how dire this becomes if you happen to be in a state that still has the death penalty. Tracey is a determined character that, being that she's only seventeen, still has her insecurities and doubts. She's scared for her family and herself, but it's the literal fear of death and grief that pushes her to save those she loves most. It's inspiring because there are so many Black children in America who have seen their parents and loved ones swallowed up into a system that, if it frees them, spits them back out broken, and these children have to keep on living their lives and going to school and looking towards the future. This story will also (hopefully) make you angry because there should be no reason for innocent, non-violent people to end up in a prisoner system and forgotten about and then, depending on the state, patiently awaiting their death date. This should not be the reality for any child in any country, yet here we are.
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This book isn't normally the kind of book I'd reach for, but I loved every second of it. The book was very powerful and much needed in these times. I felt the way the author conveyed emotions in this book was perfect and I felt everything the characters in the book felt. It was deep and meaningful and definitely a powerful book I would recommend to anyone.
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