In the next striking and vibrant standalone novel by the critically acclaimed author of Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming, Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of three Brooklyn teens who plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he is still alive. Biggie Smalls was right. Things done changed. But that doesn’t mean that Quadir and Jarrell are okay letting their best friend Steph’s tracks lie forgotten in his bedroom after he’s killed—not when his beats could turn any Bed-Stuy corner into a celebration, not after years of having each other’s backs. Enlisting the help of Steph’s younger sister, Jasmine, Quadir and Jarrell come up with a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new rap name: The Architect. Soon, everyone in Brooklyn is dancing to Steph’s voice. But then his mixtape catches the attention of a hotheaded music rep and—with just hours on the clock—the trio must race to prove Steph’s talent from beyond the grave. Now, as the pressure—and danger—of keeping their secret grows, Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine are forced to confront the truth about what happened to Steph. Only each has something to hide. And with everything riding on Steph’s fame, together they need to decide what they stand for before they lose everything they’ve worked so hard to hold on to—including each other.
Let Me Hear a RhymeFeatured
While all of Jackson's novels are unique, readers of ALLEGEDLY and MONDAY'S NOT COMING will recognize her gift for weaving layered mysteries with complex, engaging characters. Jasmine was my favorite this time around, but Quadir and Jarrell also have excellent story lines and development. The chapters switch between the three of them with an occasional flashback to Steph. Voice is one of Jackson's many strengths, and before long, I didn't need the name in the chapter title to tell whose perspective I was following.
One worry I sometimes have with YA books set in the 80s or 90s is the nostalgia factor. Sometimes, stories set in either decade feel more of a nostalgic journey for the author rather than a setting with a clear purpose. In this case, with its firm roots in a specific cultural movement, LET ME HEAR A RHYME could not be set in any other timeline and is intentional in every aspect of the setting. It is clearly written for a teen audience that did not grow up in the 90s and offers an excellent cultural representation of black teenhood in the 90s R&B era in Brooklyn. Many teens will find Jasmine's frustration over racism and sexism just as familiar in their own worlds now.
Ever since ALLEGEDLY, Jackson has been on my auto-buy authors list, and LET ME HEAR A RHYME proves once more how skilled her craft is.