A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The story brings to light the kind of racial conflict young people experience in their personal lives and how it affects them. It explores racial dimensions of the standard high school drama, like jocks and nerds, popular kids and unpopular kids, and college competition, and relationships with parents and teachers.
The positive message is cautionary rather than direct: Be kind. Be honest. Most of the characters are unkind and dishonest, and they pay for it.
Positive Role Models
There are many negative role models and few positive ones. Black teens stage a protest against racism in their school and town. One teacher tries to be a force for decency, but the cowardly principal stymies her efforts. A father abuses his daughter in the belief that he's protecting her. The teens are disloyal, backstabbing friends.
The main character is a girl with a White father and Black mother. The story depicts friendships and conflicts between the White students and Black students in a public high school.
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Violence & Scariness
A father burns his daughter's scalp with a hot comb as punishment. A group of teens bully a girl by ongoing teasing, throwing water on her, and throwing pencils in her Afro. A girl uses supernatural powers to get revenge on the kids who bullied her. The incident kills other students and faculty. There's an attempted murder.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One teen couple has sex in a car and another in a closed store. It's implied that other teens are sexually active. There are a few romantic kisses.
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"F--k," "s--t," and "a--hole."
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Products & Purchases
Mention of using Google and YouTube give realistic detail to the story.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens drink at a party, and a couple gets drunk in their car on vodka stolen from a parent.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Weight of Blood, by Tiffany D. Jackson (White Smoke, Grown), is a retelling of Stephen King's Carrie. Maddy Washington, a high school student, lives with her White father and passes for White, though her mother was Black. Due to her father's strict controls, Maddy dresses and behaves strangely, and is bullied at school. When she's caught in an unexpected rainstorm, her hot-combed hair blooms into an Afro, and she's outed. This leads to more severe bullying. As the pressure increases, Maddy discovers she has the power of telekinesis. Eventually, she's pushed to the breaking point at the prom. A father burns his daughter's scalp with a hot comb as a punishment. A group of teens bully a girl by ongoing teasing, throwing water on her, and throwing pencils in her Afro. A girl uses supernatural powers to get revenge on the kids who bullied her in an incident that kills other students and faculty, and sets the town on fire. There's an attempted murder. One teen couple has sex in a car and another in a closed store. Teens drink at a party, and a couple gets drunk in their car on vodka stolen from a parent. It's implied that other teens are sexually active. There are a few romantic kisses. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "a--hole."
Is It Any Good?
This is a clever, though occasionally clumsy, retelling of a classic. Many of the scenes in The Weight of Blood are immediately recognizable from Stephen King's classic 1972 novel Carrie. This is both a weakness and a strength. For readers who have read Carrie or seen the movie, there's little suspense and some events feel like in-jokes that don't always land. For readers new to this story, the horror is well executed and the social commentary is deftly incorporated in the energetic, intriguing voice that's made this author so popular.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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