There Goes the Neighborhood

Jade Adia's YA debut is a darkly droll thriller about three best friends from South Los Angeles, Calif., who create a fake gang on social media to scare away gentrifying developers.

Fifteen-year-old Rhea has known Zeke and Malachi "since Pampers." In recent years, the three best friends have watched community staples slowly disappear and be replaced by Pilates studios and Whole Foods. The teens know that soon there will be no more Black or brown faces in their neighborhood at all. Knowledge doesn't save Zeke from potential eviction, though, when his building's rent control ordinance expires. As they consider the limited ways they can help Zeke, Rhea hatches a plan to create a fake gang to dissuade the white investors from developing the area. They name their gang SOSI and use social media to strategically plan different SOSI events. Their scheme is so convincing that, when a white man is murdered, his death is pinned on SOSI.

There Goes the Neighborhood is told from Rhea's passionate, cunning first-person point of view. "As a Black girl," Rhea is aware that she is "either hypervisible or invisible" and her narration shows a young woman determined to turn society's racist conventions into a weapon she can use. Adia seizes readers' attention and empathy with her humorous, endearing characters and skillfully covers topics like love, sexuality, parental abandonment and friendship. Rhea, Zeke and Malachi's story is a gripping and comedic novel that should appeal to fans of Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give or Christina Hammonds Reed's The Black Kids. --Natasha Harris, freelance reviewer

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