This Is My America

Book review by
Barbara Saunders, Common Sense Media
This Is My America Book Poster Image
Girl pursues justice for father, brother in exciting novel.

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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

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.

Sex

A love triangle contributes to a violent crime. There are several passionate romantic kisses; it's ambiguous how far some characters go sexually.

Language

"S--t," "f--k," "ass," and "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens get drunk, smoke weed, and smoke cigarettes at a high school party.

What 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.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byBooknerd167938 April 27, 2021

Read this book!!!!!

Okay, don’t even get me started on how good this book is! I read it looking to read about a strong independent woman finding her way, and it certainly has that.... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybookishgirl January 7, 2021

What's the story?

When THIS IS MY AMERICA begins, Tracy Beaumont, a 17-year-old, African American girl, is campaigning to prove her father's innocence and get him off death row. In 275 days, he may be executed. Her family's experience has sparked her to teach community workshops about dealing with law enforcement, vie for a role as editor of the school paper, and voice her concerns in an online presence. Then, her college-bound brother, a track star, is arrested for murder. So, she investigates the crime to clear his name while continuing to pursue an appeal for her father. In the process, she learns some uncomfortable secrets about the history of some families in their Texas town.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the media influences people in This Is My America. How do people strategically use the media? 

  • Have you ever been negatively affected by a family member's actions? What happened, and how did you feel about it?

  • What additional perspective on the main character's state of mind do you get from the letters she writes? 

Book details

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