cover image This Is My America

This Is My America

Kim Johnson. Random House, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-593-11876-4

Activist Johnson’s powerful debut is a timely testimony that echoes the social realities behind today’s #BlackLivesMatter protests. For seven years, Tracy Beaumont, a Black 17-year-old, has written letters to Innocence X, a legal firm representing wrongfully convicted people on death row, begging them to take her father’s case. Her dad has less than one year left before he is executed by Texas for murder; the Beaumonts know both that he is innocent and that it’s easier for Galveston County to believe that a Black man committed the crime than to face the possibility of his innocence. As the clock ticks, Tracy is forced to relive her father’s arrest when a white sheriff accuses her elder brother, college-bound athlete Jamal, of murdering a white girl. Faced with the possibility of losing another family member to an unjust judicial system, Tracy begins her own investigation into the incident. Weaving together a gripping murder mystery and a heartfelt narrative about a girl trying to save her family, Johnson explores the systemic, generational effects of police brutality, mass incarceration, and racism on the Black community. Through Tracy’s work as an advocate, high school journalist, and Know Your Rights workshop leader, the author also offers a lens into combating social inequalities and their effects. A list of resources and suggested reading arms readers with valuable tools to promote change. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Jennifer March Soloway, Andrea Brown Literary. (July) [/em]