One of the Good Ones is a must-read for all parents, teachers, and librarians. This new own voices books will gently lead you to consider what you mean when you stuff people into categories. You won’t be able to put it down.
I receive free electronic advanced reader copies of these books through an arrangement between the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion on NetGalley’s website. I only review books on my blog that I really love.
Go Buy Yourself a Copy of One of the Good Ones
We all do it, even if we deny it. And when we do it, we diminish the humanity of the person we refer to. We pigeonhole people who don’t act, think, look, or believe just like we do. But what does that do to the person we stuffed into a category? One of the Good Ones will help you discover the consequences.
By Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, Inkyard Press, January 2021, 352 pages, 12+
Kezi Smith is one of the good ones—a straight-A student headed to college, a student leader, a vlogger, and a social activist. When she dies tragically in just another incident of police brutality at a local protest, her younger sister Happi, her older sister Genny, and their parents must deal with the consequences of their devastating loss.
How can a family survive the rending of their fabric? Happi’s parents rely on their church and relationship with God. Her older sister Genny relies on the close bond she had with Kezi to comfort Kezi’s best friends. But Happi? She feels left out of the grief and wounded by the words bandied about. Words about the tragic loss of ‘one of the good ones.’
What makes one person a ‘good one’ and another person unworthy of notice, Happi wonders. Isn’t loss loss and aren’t people people? When Genny plans a trip to memorialize their sister as they drive across the United States using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as a guide, Happi reluctantly agrees to come along. Feeling tricked (Genny invites Kezi’s two best friends along, too), Happi holds little hope of finding resolution or peace on their journey.
Along the way, everyone involved learns new things about each other and the deepest shadows of their own hearts.
Told from multiple points of view over a period of six months, the reader may wonder at times why certain characters appear.
Only reading to the shocking ending will reveal why.
Why I Loved this Book
This own voices book revealed to me another facet of my white privilege. I confess I may have shaken my head at how ‘one of the good ones’ in my life allowed circumstances to prevent them from becoming all I thought they should become. Shame on me. Every student (and every human) deserves my respect regardless of their circumstances or upbringing. I realized I judged students based on my dreams for them (in other words, would they turn out like me?) rather than on their own dreams.
Children (and students) are fragile dreams we must hold loosely and not try to mold into exact replicas of ourselves. We must give strength and support without dictating the journey or the outcome. Their stories are not our stories to write.Children are fragile dreams we must hold loosely and not try to mold into exact replicas of ourselves. #OneoftheGoodOnes #amreading #bookreview #parenting Click To Tweet
As an adult reader, I related to Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their struggles to reconcile their conservative Christian heritage with the reality of their daughters’ lives—especially their discovery that one of their daughters has a girlfriend. Parents of younger readers will want to read the book along with their pre-teen and stand ready to answer questions and engender conversations.
If parents feel unequipped to discuss LGBTQ issues with their children, they may want to read She’s My Dad before delving into One of the Good Ones. But every parent, Christian or not, needs to equip themselves for the weighty issues that face today’s children—from sexuality to racism.
Parents who feel unequipped to discuss white privilege with their children should also read So You Want to Talk About Race and The Voting Booth. Whatever you do, don’t miss this timely book from two fresh own voices authors.