cover image The Weight of Blood

The Weight of Blood

Tiffany D. Jackson. HarperCollins/Tegen, $18.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06302914-9

Jackson (White Smoke) skillfully explores internalized and externalized anti-Blackness in this striking horror novel, which channels Stephen King’s Carrie. Though Springfield, Ga., high school senior Maddy Washington is biracial (Black and white), her emotionally and physically abusive racist white father forces her to live as white. To keep up the charade, Maddy must never publicly wet her weekly hot combed hair. When a sudden storm in the middle of gym class unveils Maddy’s natural hair texture, though, her white classmates taunt her for it. The incident, and the aggressively racist happenings that follow, cast a spotlight on Maddy’s town. Suddenly, a media circus watches the school’s every move, and some students petition to end their upcoming prom’s segregated “tradition.” As the bullying worsens, Maddy’s rightful rage culminates in deadly consequences. Fans of the source material will recognize the plot structure, but Jackson’s bone-chilling rendition features podcasts and documentary excerpts that follow the trajectory of Maddy’s abuse at home and school to book’s climax, expertly utilizing current true-crime fanaticism to form a powerfully socially conscious narrative that showcases the intense structural racism still inherent in society. Ages 14–up. Agent: Natalie Lakosil, Bradford Literary. (Sept.)