A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Through scenes about Know Your Rights workshops the main character delivers in her community, readers get a detailed instruction on how to behave during interactions with the police.
Know your power. Use it to protect and defend yourself and the people you love. Know who your friends are. Fight for justice.
Positive Role Models
Positive role models include an incarcerated man who nevertheless is a loving, active parent; a mother successfully raising her children despite her husband's absence; a young man who excels in school and sports, and is loyal to his family despite its turmoil; a very resourceful young woman who fights for her family as well as her community; and numerous models of friends and allies who are faithful and trustworthy through difficult times. A Black woman police officer serves as a bridge between the community and the sheriff's department.
Violence & Scariness
A couple and a teen girl are murdered. Police kill a man during an arrest. There's is a fistfight in which a teen gets a black eye.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A love triangle contributes to a violent crime. There are several passionate romantic kisses; it's ambiguous how far some characters go sexually.
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"S--t," "f--k," "ass," and "damn."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens get drunk, smoke weed, and smoke cigarettes at a high school party.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kim Johnson's This Is My America is about a 17-year-old, African American girl in Texas named Tracy, who races the clock to get an appeal for her father on death row. Intensifying her family's crisis, a schoolmate is murdered and Tracy's brother, Jamal, is the prime suspect. A couple and a teen girl are murdered. Police kill a man during an arrest. A teen gets a black eye in a fistfight. A love triangle contributes to a violent crime. There are several passionate romantic kisses, and it's ambiguous how far some characters go sexually. Strong language incudes "s--t," "f--k," "ass," and "damn." Teens get drunk, smoke weed, and smoke cigarettes at a high school party.
Is It Any Good?
This exciting, courageous book gives readers a tour through difficult material, including murder, the U.S. justice system, and encounters with police. In This Is My America by Kim Johnson, readers meet a relatable high school student facing scary realities about the society she lives in and her place in it. The first-person narrator's voice fits the story perfectly: She shows admirable resolve in the face of challenges, danger, and the impending tragedy of her father's possible execution. Still she's a normal high school student, drawn in by boys and parties and competing to be editor of the school publication. Valuable instruction about what to do when encountering law enforcement appears throughout the book, without ever seeming forced in.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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.