Thursday, July 23, 2020

I'm Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source: Purchased

What amazes me about this book is that it came out in August of 2019. This could have been ripped from recent headlines.  This story has so many layers to it. It is told in alternating perspectives. We have Lena, an African American and Campbell a white teen.  Campbell has moved in with her dad because her mother moved to Venezuela. She hasn't spent much time with him over the years. A few months into her new school year she has been guilted into running the concession stand at the football game. Her dad is letting the teacher in charge take her home so that he can get to his weekend fishing cabin before nightfall. Things take a disastrous turn when a fight breaks out between the two teams. Lena has gone to the concession stand to get a soda while she waits for her overaged boyfriend to pick her up. When things turn violent she finds herself inside the concession stand with Campbell. As they try to leave and get to safety they realize they have to rely on each other. What made this so wonderful was the preconceived ideas that both of them had about each other. Lena kept calling Campbell a rich white girl because her father owned a hardware store. Campbell makes statements out of ignorance.

I could really identify with her because I came from an all-white school in Indiana my sophomore year. We moved to Florida. I was told when we moved down that the school I would attend had just had a race riot. This terrified me. I was use to talking to and playing with people who were different. My parents never let me believe there were differences. I always assumed that the reason some games in Junior High were held earlier in the day was because they had to come so far. I didn't know it was because the town had a rule not allowing African Americans in town after sundown.  Sometimes I think I was blessed living out in the country. We went camping every year and a kid was a kid, not a skin color. So I didn't understand prejudice. At the same time I was afraid I would say something out of ignorance that would offend someone. My best friend from day one was a girl with whom I rode the bus. My answers to her questions were so short she thought I was being rude. I told her I didn't mean it that way I just didn't want to say something stupid that might get me killed. I thought she was going to stop breathing she was laughing so hard. She took me under her wing.  

Lena and Campbell both had to  learn that a lot of what they  thought about the other race was false.  Some of the language was a bit more than I usually put on my school shelves. However, I will put a warning on the front and place it there because the message is one that is so important. Maybe this book will start a conversation among students. Conversations, not violence is what we need today.  I read the book in a little under two hours because I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this book.

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