A routine traffic stop turns tragic for two African American teens, leaving one dead and the other irrevocably changed by the shooting and its aftermath of legal battles, survivor’s guilt, and race riots. Thomas’s fictionalized story of the Black Lives Matter movement is powerful, and the star turn here by reader Turpin makes it all the more riveting. Turpin, who was PW’s 2016 Narrator of the Year, delves into the character of Starr, who struggles with whether to come forward with the truth about the shooting when doing so means her own life will come under terrible scrutiny. She conveys the complexity of the 16-year-old protagonist who sounds both youthful and mature for her age, as she relies on code-switching to navigate two different social settings—her mostly black neighborhood and mostly white school—until, partway through the novel, she starts breaking all the rules she’s previously used to compartmentalize her life. Turpin also turns in memorable performances for various supporting characters, especially Starr’s parents, who come from contrasting backgrounds and approach Starr’s crisis differently, and several of the kids at school. Turpin’s remarkable sensitivity carries this performance to the ranks of greatness. A HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray hardcover. (Mar.)
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