This debut YA novel is an incisive condemnation of the racist criminal justice system, mass incarceration and capital punishment.
Seven years ago, Black teen Tracy Beaumont's father was unjustly convicted of murder and is now on death row. Recently, Innocence X (an organization modeled after Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative) finally agreed to take on her father's case. But when her scholar athlete brother, Jamal, is accused of murdering the white girl he was secretly dating, he goes on the run and the Beaumont family once again becomes the focus of their Texas town's ire. As Tracy and Innocence X get closer to proving her father's innocence, Tracy also begins to work on clearing her brother's name. The more she learns, the more she finds Jamal and their father's fates are very much intertwined.
Kim Johnson has been a social justice advocate since her teen years, and her experience informs every line of This Is My America. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the novel will likely impassion those new to the fight for social justice and empower those already immersed in it. Readers will be outraged by the inhumane and heinous treatment that the Beaumont family endures, especially as things come to a head in a shocking climax in which a burning cross is erected in front of their home. The author frankly captures the Beaumonts' pain and resilience, echoed in the many families who continue to endure similar brutal injustices. As each chapter unfolds, every reveal impels readers forward, until the community's long-held secrets come to glaring light. --Shelley Diaz, supervising librarian, BookOps: New York Public Library & Brooklyn Public Library