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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.
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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?
- Author: Kim Johnson
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Activism, Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House
- Publication date: July 28, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 406
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 11, 2021
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