"An absolute must read." --Buzzfeed"A gripping portrayal of the South's inherent racism and a love story for queer Black girls." --Teen Vogue Family secrets, a swoon-worthy romance, and a slow-burn mystery collide in We Deserve Monuments, a YA debut from Jas Hammonds that explores how racial violence can ripple down through generations. What's more important: Knowing the truth or keeping the peace? Seventeen-year-old Avery Anderson is convinced her senior year is ruined when she's uprooted from her life in DC and forced into the hostile home of her terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty. The tension between Avery's mom and Mama Letty makes for a frosty arrival and unearths past drama they refuse to talk about. Every time Avery tries to look deeper, she's turned away, leaving her desperate to learn the secrets that split her family in two. While tempers flare in her avoidant family, Avery finds friendship in unexpected places: in Simone Cole, her captivating next-door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, daughter of the town's most prominent family--whose mother's murder remains unsolved. As the three girls grow closer--Avery and Simone's friendship blossoming into romance--the sharp-edged opinions of their small southern town begin to hint at something insidious underneath. The racist history of Bardell, Georgia is rooted in Avery's family in ways she can't even imagine. With Mama Letty's health dwindling every day, Avery must decide if digging for the truth is worth toppling the delicate relationships she's built in Bardell--or if some things are better left buried. A School Library Journal Best Book of 2022
- ISBN-13: 9781250816559
- ISBN-10: 1250816556
- Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
- Publish Date: November 2022
- Dimensions: 8.38 x 5.73 x 1.22 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.96 pounds
- Page Count: 384
- Reading Level: Ages 14-18
“Get in. Get out, No drama. Focus forward.” That’s the motto guiding Avery Anderson at the beginning of her senior year of high school, when she and her parents move from Washington, D.C., to Bardell, Georgia, in order to care for Avery’s estranged, dying grandmother. Yet Avery soon finds herself surrounded by drama in Jas Hammonds’ superb debut novel, We Deserve Monuments.
Avery’s life isn’t just in limbo from the move; she’s also fresh off a breakup with her girlfriend back home. Avery’s relationship with her grandmother, Mama Letty, isn’t all smooth sailing either. The first time they meet, Mama Letty tells Avery that her lip piercing makes her look “like a fish caught on a hook.” Avery’s mother, a renowned astrophysicist, grapples with her own relationship with Letty, who was often drunk and abusive during Zora’s childhood, while Avery and Letty eventually form a close bond.
Meanwhile, Avery gets to know the town of Bardell, where “every corner [holds] a story,” with the help of two new friends: next-door neighbor Simone, who is Black, and Jade, whose wealthy white family lives on a former plantation and owns a posh hotel in town. Yet her new knowledge only inspires more questions for Avery, including what happened to her late grandfather, Ray, whom neither Zora nor Letty will discuss.
In We Deserve Monuments, Hammonds takes on two challenges—exploring the ugly legacy of racism in a small town and telling a moving love story—and succeeds at both. The author blends these two plot strands in a wonderfully organic fashion, and their prose is sure-footed every step of the way, with snappy dialogue so fresh that readers will feel as though they’re eavesdropping on real conversations.
Avery is an engaging, appealing narrator whose story is occasionally supplemented by short chapters of omniscient narration that efficiently fill in gaps from the past. As Avery navigates a seemingly forbidden new romance and drifts from her intention of following in her mother’s professional footsteps, readers are rewarded with a number of startling plot twists and a host of tender moments between Avery and her love interest. Just as rich are the relationships among the members of Avery’s family, especially the magnificently complex Letty.
Life, identity, love, death—it’s all here. We Deserve Monuments marks a noteworthy debut from a writer paving her own literary future.