Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 2463
vibrant, current
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Los Angeles, Ferguson, and Baltimore. Three cities where years of racism, injustice, unchecked police brutality, and rampant anti-Black racism came together and riots ensued after a failure of accountability let cops get away with brutal assaults on black men. Less than two weeks before he was assassinated, MLK Jr. himself called riots "the language of the unheard," which has proven itself true time and time again for marginalized people. (White people riots are more often "party riots" where they just want to destroy stuff. See: the 2014 pumpkin festival riot in New Hampshire.) In I'm Not Dying with You Tonight, Black girl Lena and racist white girl Campbell are thrown together one night and are present at the epicenter of two separate racism-related riots.

Lena and Campbell have some rotten luck, finding themselves stuck in the thick of two different riots that combine to throw Atlanta into chaos one Friday night. The cause of the first: a white guy calls a black guy a monkey when they're in line for concessions at a high school football game--the same game where Lena is spectating and Campbell is working concessions. They manage to escape the school and reluctantly stick together to find Lena's less-than-great boyfriend Black (he'll give them a ride home), but they end up at the center of the second riot while doing so. It began as a peaceful protest of the governor, who called black people "colored" in a speech, and the poor response of law enforcement to that protest led to violence.

I'm Not Dying with You Tonight is an unstoppable read with breakneck pacing that perfectly captures the chaotic situation Lena and Campbell are in as well as how it might feel to be on the scene of a riot. It's something impossible to imagine and truly understand unless you've been there, but Jones and Segal paint a vivid picture.

It's likely readers will devour the book in one sitting, but that pacing comes at the cost of characterization. Campbell is a clueless racist white girl who gets some measure of growth, but readers who are tired of seeing characters like her may not be patient with the story of yet another white girl learning to be a little less racist. Lena is already a fantastic character, but she doesn't change much. The intriguing stroke of complexity her boyfriend gets toward the end serves to highlight Lena's lack of growth.

Then the novel's abrupt ending leaves one with the hollow feeling of a story that wasn't quite done being told. To illustrate the problem, think about how we see the LA riots of 1992. The event is equal parts Before (the murders, police brutality, and anti-Black racism), During (the riots themselves after the cops who beat Rodney King were acquitted), and After (the legacy and effects on the community). In I'm Not Dying with You Tonight, some of the Before is detailed and the During is the entirety of the book, but the lack of After leaves the story incomplete. Even when nothing changes in the wake of such events as often happens, how we see the past is determined by every day after. That's how history works.

There isn't much more to say about this book. It's a vibrant, current read with some incredible forward momentum and plenty to recommend it for, but its weak spots are significant. It's odd for me to finish a book and feel like I'm missing part of it, but that's the case with I'm Not Dying with You Tonight.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Baseball Baby
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This original board book series, which begins with America's favorite...
I Am Not a Penguin
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
This hilarious story of a pangolin with an identity crisis...
Sam Can't Sleep
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
When Sam can’t sleep, he decides to ask all the...
Welcome to California
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Welcome to California! We're glad you're here! Introducing a new...
The Other Side of Perfect
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Sarah Dessen and Mary H.K. Choi, this...
Zoom: Dinosaur Adventure
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Join Jasmine and Jamie as they travel back in time...
Let's Pretend Fire Station
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
It's a busy day at the fire station! Chldren can...
Rosa Loves Dinosaurs / A Rosa Le Encantan Los Dinosaurios
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Let's find out which toys Rosa and her friends are...
Things That Go (I Can Learn)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Travel by land, sea, and air in this bright and...
Welcome to Florida
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Welcome to Florida! We're glad you're here! Introducing a new...
Indivisible
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This timely, moving debut novel follows a teen's efforts to...
Homer on the Case
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Celebrated author and illustrator Henry Cole returns with a page-turning...
The Thingity-Jig
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This jovial frolic through the city and woods celebrates ingenuity...
The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting...
The Sacrifice of One
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Who would want to execute my brother? ...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
1426, Joseon (Korea). Hwani's family has never been the same...

Latest Member Reviews

Baseball Baby
 
5.0
"BASEBALL BABY is a delightful board book about baseball. The book begins with heading to the park to play baseball..."
I Am Not a Penguin
 
4.0
"I AM NOT A PENGUIN is a silly picture book that manages to teach young readers about pangolins. A pangolin..."
Sam Can't Sleep
 
4.5
"SAM CAN'T SLEEP is a fun picture book read that introduces the concept of nocturnal animals. It's nighttime, and all..."
Welcome to California
 
4.0
"WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA is a fun picture book of facts about the state. It covers topics from the state capitol..."
The Other Side of Perfect
 
4.3
"THE OTHER SIDE OF PERFECT is an engrossing YA contemporary about loss, grief, moving on, friendship, and sisterhood. Alina has..."
Zoom: Dinosaur Adventure
 
4.5
"ZOOM: DINOSAUR ADVENTURE takes the reader on a journey to the time of the dinosaurs. Jamie and Jasmine are going..."
Let's Pretend Fire Station
 
5.0
"LET'S PRETEND FIRE STATION is a delightful peek-through board book about firefighters. The book features pictures of children, firetrucks, and..."
Rosa Loves Dinosaurs / A Rosa Le Encantan Los Dinosaurios
 
3.5
"ROSA LOVES DINOSAURS/ A ROSA LE ENCANTAN LOS DINOSAURIOS is a fun bilingual board book about a love of dinosaurs...."
Things That Go (I Can Learn)
 
5.0
"THINGS THAT GO is a delightful lift-the-flap and peek-through exploration of vehicles. In three sets of pages with flaps, die-cuts,..."
Welcome to Florida
 
4.3
"WELCOME TO FLORIDA is a fun touristy picture book about the state of Florida. The book goes through some of..."
Indivisible
 
5.0
"INDIVISIBLE is a heartfelt and riveting YA contemporary about family, feeling different, and immigration in the US. Mateo is a..."
My Last Summer with Cass
 
5.0
"“A good friendship is like a work of art.” Megan and Cass have been friends forever. Their..."
The Lightbringer: Through the Elder Stone
 
5.0
"The Lightbringer plays on that classic trope of light vs dark, but in a fresh way with unheard of magical..."
Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch
 
5.0
"Eva Evergreen is a young witch about to embark on her Novice Quest. As the daughter of one of the..."
Homer on the Case
 
4.5
"HOMER ON THE CASE is a delightful middle grade mystery, featuring unlikely detectives. Homer, a homing pigeon, and Lulu, a..."
The Thingity-Jig
 
5.0
"THE THINGITY-JIG is a fun picture book read about invention and friendship. Although all his friends are asleep, Bear feels..."
The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer, #1)
 
5.0
"THE PRISON HEALER is a stunning and captivating YA fantasy read. This book takes place in a prison, Zalindov, which..."
 
5.0
"There were so many things I really liked about this book. The case of the missing girls was obviously the..."
Bridge of Souls (City of Ghosts #3)
 
4.0
"What worked: This is a satisfying conclusion to City of Ghosts series. Engaging characters, fast-paced plot, and spooky magic woven..."
This is Your World
 
5.0
"THIS IS YOUR WORLD is a lovely picture book that introduces the world and the importance of taking care of..."