When You Look Like Us
by Harris, Pamela N.

When you look like us-brown skin, brown eyes, black braids or fades-everyone else thinks you're trouble. No one even blinks twice over a missing black girl from public housing because she must've brought whatever happened to her upon herself. I, Jay Murphy, can admit that, for a minute, I thought my sister Nicole just got caught up with her boyfriend-a drug dealer-and his friends. But she's been gone too long. Nic, where are you? If I hadn't hung up on her that night, she would be at our house, spending time with Grandma. If I was a better brother, she'd be finishing senior year instead of being another name on a missing persons list. It's time to step up, to do what the Newport News police department won't. Bring her home -

Harris' poignant debut novel shines a light on the scant value society and its institutions place on the lives of BIPOC individuals. In it, Jay is forced to continually cover for his sister, Nic, who hangs out with the wrong crowd. Reaching his breaking point, Jay refuses to be her keeper any longer, and, immediately after, Nic fails to return home. When she's deemed missing, the police barely bother to search for her; she's another lost Black girl, undeserving of their time. It is left to Jay, therefore, to find his sister and bring her home. Harris creates a vividly drawn world, a rich cast of characters, and an authentic neighborhood in her book. Jay is a dynamic, complicated main character who can be both stubborn and a pushover depending on the circumstance. Themes of family, neighborhood, identity, isolation, and belonging are explored through the lens of the tragic, real-world issue of Black and Brown girls going missing every year without much of the world bothering to take notice, search for them, or care. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

A high school junior fights to find his sister before times runs out. Black 16-year-old Jayson Murphy hopes to make it one step closer to leaving the Ducts, a paycheck-to-paycheck neighborhood in Newport News, Virginia. Jay does his best to make his paternal grandmother, MiMi, proud. After his father passed from cancer and his mom‚??s struggles with addiction put her behind bars, MiMi stepped in for Jay and his older sister, Nic. While Jay tries to ease MiMi‚??s stress, Nic stays out all hours with her shady, drug-dealing boyfriend. Jay is tired of covering for Nic; after receiving an unintelligible call, he decides this time is the last. But after a few days, he realizes she is missing. Though his White best friend from school and the Black preacher‚??s daughter he teaches Sunday school with are willing to help, Jay has trouble trusting others to care as much as he does. This deftly written tale peels back the layers of a much-maligned neighborhood and its vibrant, complex residents‚?"and exposes the dark, violent underbelly of White America. Ultimately, Jay‚??s community proves to be stronger and more powerful than any bad reputation. Harris‚?? book shines a light on the repercussions of institutionalized racism on Black communities and the plight of missing Black girls. Readers will ponder this story long after they turn the final page. A powerful story about misperceptions, reality, and the lives lived in between. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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