Outstanding, necessary story. Beautiful exploration of art and rage and expression in the most terrible of circumstances. Written in verse and full of illustrations, it’s a very interactive experience living with Amal in the juvenile detention center.
I hope this gets to the hands that need it, Black kids stuck in prison for crimes they did not commit. They need the hope. I’m glad the publisher arranged it so paperback copies of this book will be printed immediately in order for prisons to allow it within their walls.
This was a really solid piece of YA fiction written in free verse. I felt like it really captured the emotions that Amal would have been feeling and gave an insight into life in prison.
The authors note at the end was amazing and I had no idea going in that one of the authors had actually been imprisoned for a crime that he did not commit.
This book made my heart hurt. A short story, told in verse, drawing on Yusef Salaam’s experiences and channeled into Amal, a young man wrongly convicted of a crime. Injustice and justice was on the menu here and the use of verse poignantly reverberated the message.
I am ink
He is paper…
I am criminal
He is victim
I am alive
He is almost dead
I am black
He is white
The narrative in this novel had a moment-to-moment feeling that was pretty tension ridden and I read much of it with that sense of doom and despair conveyed by Amal’s feelings. There were some areas of the book that I felt were particularly impactful – both sides defendant and perpetrator were the same age, yet one was referred to as a boy and the other a man. That point really hit me deep. There were many more examples but I don’t want to spoil.
All of this book is relevant for now, for 2020 and beyond, I am sure. It couldn’t be a better time to pick this up amongst your menu of BIPOC fiction and it would complement anyone’s plan to educate themselves more.
The illustrations/formatting didn’t come across particularly well on the ebook galley but now I have a hard copy, I can appreciate how wonderful the formatting and design is.
Please make sure to also check out some black reviewers on this book.
Thank you to Harper Collins Childrens for this early review copy.
This review can be found on A Take From Two Cities Blog.
Moderate: Police brutality
Moderate: Confinement, Racial slurs, Racism, and Violence
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