cover image Promise Boys

Promise Boys

Nick Brooks. Holt, $19.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-86697-4

When the principal of venerated Washington, D.C., all-boys charter school Urban Promise Prep is found shot dead under mysterious circumstances, suspicion immediately falls on three students with less than stellar reputations: quiet but temperamental J.B., mischievous but good-natured Ramón, and perpetual troublemaker Trey, all of whom were in detention on campus when the killing took place. Though the trio claim innocence, evidence piles up: Ramón’s hairbrush is found at the scene, J.B. is inexplicably covered in the principal’s blood, and Trey publicly threatened the principal before his death. Additionally, Trey’s uncle’s gun is missing, and authorities assume that Trey stole it. The boys must work together to uncover the truth—behind the murder and Urban Promise Prep’s history—before they lose their promising futures. Dividing the narrative into several parts told from multiple POVs in nonlinear chronology, Brooks (Nothing Interesting Ever Happens to Ethan Fairmont) shines a light on racial inequality in the criminal justice system and interrogates the degree to which educational institutions play a role in upholding it, particularly regarding young men of color. Brooks excels in creating protagonists worthy of applause and truly foul villains, whose presences linger long after this atmospheric read ends. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)