Book Review: This Is My America by Kim Johnson

This is the kind of YA novel that I want in everybody’s hands!

This Is My America // by Kim Johnson

Pub Day: July 28, 2020

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books


Tracy has spent seven years writing letters to Innocence X, a death penalty legal aid society, to convince them to help her father, an innocent man on death row, who was charged wrongfully with the murder of a white community member. Now, so close to the graduation of her brother who is set to join the track team of a University in their state, a white classmate is found dead. The first person that everyone looks at is her brother Jamal. Facing the possibility of two family members losing their lives over crimes she is convinced they did not commit, it is a race against time for Tracy to find out the truth and hopefully set them free.

My Thoughts:

This Is My America by Kim Johnson is an impressive book any day but even more so because of what is currently happening all around us. This story takes several different issues that black communities struggle with and presents it in a way that is easily understood in its idea even if we cannot say we understand what it actually feels like in real life. Racism and police brutality are what stand out the most but you also see the generational trauma, injustice, corruption, and the struggle to fit into a predominantly white community that still sees you as an outsider after many years of living there.

There were many educational moments for me in this book but one part that really struck me is how she has a character like Dean that admits to his faulty thinking and judgment due to the way that he was raised. I think it is great that he is striving to do better but also that Tracy herself does not take on the responsibility of making him feel better because it is not her job to educate him and accept his apologies. That moment was something that felt very personal to me as a white person and helped me understand my own confusing feelings that I had when I reached that point myself in the past.

Johnson did a great job of conveying the fear and (justified) anger that was felt by her characters. This story kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. While I was reading this book, I was also following live videos of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country. The back and forth between this fictional story and the current events made this an even more compelling read and highlights why these issues need to be addressed right now, not later, not tomorrow, not next year, so that – finally – MY America can become THEIR America as well.

I just realized that this is her debut novel and wow! If this is how she starts out, then I cannot wait to see what we will get from her in the future!

About the Author:

Kim Johnson held leadership positions in social justice organizations as a teen and in college. She’s now a college administrator who maintains civic engagement throughout the community while also mentoring Black student activists and leaders. She is also the graduate advisor and member of a historically Black sorority. This Is My America is her debut novel and explores racial injustice against innocent Black men who are criminally sentenced and the families left behind to pick up the pieces. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and the University of Maryland, College Park.

About the Publisher:

Random House Children’s Books is the world’s largest English-language children’s trade book publisher. Creating books for toddlers through young adult readers, in all formats from board books to activity books to picture books, novels, ebooks, and apps, the imprints of Random House Children’s Books bring together award-winning authors and illustrators, world-famous franchise characters, and multimillion-copy series. A division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the free ebook in exchange for an honest review.

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