Are you ready for a book that’s going to make you mad? By mad, I mean frustrated with what it’s like to be Black in Amerikkka. Because that’s I’m Not Dying With You Tonight. In this YA contemporary novel that came out back in 2015, we are following two girls—one White and one Black—who attend a football game and are trapped when a major fight breaks out. The police show up, making everything worse with clubs and tear gas, and the fight then becomes a city-wide riot. These two girls, who do not know each other well or really even dig each other, have to stick together in order to survive the night.
The book takes place in Atlanta and is all about confronting hidden prejudices as they are depending on each other to escape the fiery race riot their city has collapsed into. Campbell, for the first time in her life, is forced to realize the many ways White supremacy has embedded itself inside of her, and must face how much work she has to do. Lena, has to survive potential police violence and is struggling with her boyfriend, an older man who doesn’t treat her the way she deserves.
Now, what I dug about this book is that it was a snapshot into a greater movement. It took place within the span of a few hours. Which means our characters have to be witty, quick, and develop quickly within a very small time frame. The book is authored by two women—one White (Gilly Segal) and one Black (Kimberly Jones)—and I loved how separate the perspectives felt, how much the characters grew, but also how we don’t really get to see what happens to them after the riot. As the reader, you just have to be comfortable getting a “glimpse” into the lives of these two girls. It’s a reading style I’m not super familiar with. I’ve only read one book that took place in the span of a day and I really do like the trope. It forces the writer, or writers, to get to the point quickly and it means the book never has a dull moment. But, be careful not to expect a full book that goes on over the course of weeks or months; this ain’t it. This is a book that’s all about sparking a conversation, not about following through with it. Make sense?
Overall, I loved this book and I would recommend it, especially for anyone who is new to conversations about race and wanting to learn more. It sucks that this book is still so relevant in 2020. Many of us are still just learning how to be part of the conversation on being anti-racist, but its a great read and a quick one.
*Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
By Jesse E
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