The Color of a Lie

Author of such "ripped-from-the-headlines" titles as This Is My America and Invisible Son Kim Johnson enters the world of historical fiction with The Color of a Lie, about a teenager in 1955 who uncovers violent, racist secrets in his Pennsylvania town.

High school junior Calvin Greene has begrudgingly moved to a small suburban town in Levittown, Pa., with his parents. Although Calvin and his family are Black, they can "pass" for white and have settled in a "whites only" community. Calvin's father wants them to fully assimilate but Calvin finds "playing white" exhausting. The only good thing about the move is that he now lives closer to his brother, Robert, who runs a small Black boarding school. Calvin often sneaks away to visit Robert and his students, and to affirm his own connection to the Black community. There Calvin meets Lily Baker, a student who is part of a group integrating an all-white high school. Calvin's growing romance with Lily and his secret identity quickly place him directly in the center of broiling racial tensions as he discovers how his town maintains their all-white community.

Johnson delivers a stellar and arresting YA thriller inspired by real-life events during the civil rights movement. The author tells the story through Calvin's perceptive, candid, first-person point of view and covers difficult and complex topics while delving into the complicated, tricky reasons a person might choose to "pass," while elaborating on the experiences of those who couldn't or wouldn't. A historical novel that is captivating, edifying, and gracefully expressed. --Natasha Harris, freelance reviewer

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