ARC Review: This Is My America by Kim Johnson

Title: This Is My America
Author: Kim Johnson
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 416 Pages
Publication Date: July 28th, 2020

Summary: Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. After seven years, Tracy is running out of time--her dad has only 267 days left. Then the unthinkable happens. The police arrive in the night, and Tracy's older brother, Jamal, goes from being a bright, promising track star to a "thug" on the run, accused of killing a white girl. Determined to save her brother, Tracy investigates what really happened between Jamal and Angela down at the Pike. But will Tracy and her family survive the uncovering of the skeletons of their Texas town's racist history that still haunt the present?

I received an advanced copy of THIS IS MY AMERICA in exchange for an honest review. We were also given the opportunity to interview 2020 debut author Kim Johnson as part of our debut series, and hearing from her about bringing this debut to life was incredibly awesome. (If you're interested in reading that interview, we have it linked at the bottom of this review!) I'm so glad that I got a chance to review such a spectacular book, and now I have the opportunity to share my thoughts here with you all. So without further ado, let's get into my review!

As the summary explains, Tracy's father is currently in prison for a crime he didn't commit, sentenced to death, and he has less than a year left until his execution date. So when the book starts out, we see Tracy already doing everything she possibly can to fight for his innocence and to make sure the public knows what really happened so she can get her father justice -- including sending letters for seven entire years to Innocence X, hoping they'll help exonerate her father. But in the middle of working hard to save her father, her older brother Jamal finds himself being pinned as the murderer of a white girl that he didn't kill, and now Tracy has to fight to protect and clear his name at the same time that she's also racing against the clock to save her father. And while she works hard to save both of them, some horrifying secrets about her town come to light and hint that she may be up against more than she originally realized.

I absolutely LOVED reading this book. Kim Johnson's storytelling abilities are incredible -- I tore through this entire book in such a short period of time because I couldn't put it down and always wanted to know what was going to happen next. Watching the mystery unfold and finding new clues and shocking plot twists kept me gasping and eagerly turning pages. I wanted to see Tracy get justice for her father and for Jamal, and with each passing day in the story and all of the plot points that kept unfolding, I found myself more and more shocked and unable to put the book down. I loved the mystery element of this book so much, and I loved the fact that Tracy decided to take matters into her own hands to try to seek justice. The way she dug for clues and thought to look in places that law enforcement brushed over had me cheering her on from start to finish. She's probably one of the most driven and persistent characters I've ever read, and I loved her from the very first second that she walked onto the page.

I also think that THIS IS MY AMERICA is a vital look at the unfairness of the justice system in the United States -- as mentioned in the blurb and in the editor's note, the broken system unfairly decides who receives the stars and who received the prison stripes in our country. Even though Tracy's father has a solid alibi and several witnesses who could attest to his innocence (and they have!), their small town has chosen to believe that he was guilty because he was Black and therefore seen as an outsider in their circles, which made the crime easier to pin on him. The same goes for Jamal when Angela's body is discovered, and it's clear to see how quickly the entire town thinks he's guilty solely because he is Black and because his father was on death row for supposedly murdering two people. THIS IS MY AMERICA is an in-depth, incredible story that brings these flaws and this corruption to light. I don't want to spoil what happens throughout the book in terms of the cases because I really think you should read it yourself, but all I'll say is that the secrets come out and the things that Kim Johnson brings to light about Tracy's small Texas'll be both very shocked and sadly unsurprised at the very same time. 

In terms of characters, my favorite was definitely Quincy. Not only was he hilarious and teasing Tracy so many times that it made me laugh out loud, but he was also there whenever she needed him, ESPECIALLY when she needed someone there the most. He never let her down and stood by her side to help fight for justice for both her father and her brother, never giving up on her even when it felt like others may have. His character was super sweet and touched my heart and yes, I definitely found myself swooning over the way he was always there for Tracy. An A+ character in my book! 

Overall, I absolutely loved reading THIS IS MY AMERICA and I'm so grateful that I was able to be given an ARC to review. If you're looking for an emotional, amazing read that tackles the very serious subject of the flaws in the criminal justice system and all of the innocent Black lives that are tied up in cases they didn't commit, because the justice system sees only what it wants to see and not necessarily what it should see, then you definitely need to pick this one up. This book made me look deeper into the system's flaws and also appreciate those who work tirelessly to right the wrongs of those who are wrongfully convicted. I wish I could give this a million more stars!

Read our interview with Kim Johnson by clicking HERE!


1 comment

  1. I have this book preordered so I'm happy you loved it. It sounded too good not to read.


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