Book Review: This is My America by Kim Johnson

Audiobook Review: This is My America by Kim Johnson

Posted April 30, 2022 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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This is My America

This is My America

by Kim Johnson

Publisher: Random House on July 28, 2020
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Representation: BIPOC Authors, BIPOC Character(s), Black Authors, Black Character(s)
Content Warnings: Blood, Bullying, Death, Death of Parent, Domestic Abuse, Fire, Gun Violence, Hate Crime, Injury, Murder, Police Brutality, Racism, Violence

Rating: ★★★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads or buy the book at Bookshop.org

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?


This must have been such a challenging book for Johnson to write. There’s so much pain in it. Tracy is persistent, always has hope, but her story is a scenario filled with some good luck, people with a conscience, and the right people in the right places. Through This is My America, I kept thinking about how if even just one of these pieces slid out of place, things would have gone much differently.

I suppose I should mention the foundation fundamentals of the book. This is My America creates a sympathetic cast of characters. Johnson’s writing keeps just on the soft side of horrific, but isn’t sympathetic to white characters or white readers who may relate to them in any small way. And that’s good – it’s good that we don’t forgive those things because that kind of forgiveness is another way we are perpetuating problematic, racist, and unjust behaviors and systems. Like The Hate U Give, This is My America made me dig into myself and check my own biases. It’s a constant state of learning – reeducation is a lifelong job. I’m grateful for the moments this book made me step back.

The story moves quickly and keeps you engaged with consistent twists and discoveries. I also really liked that not only was there a romance, but it was a love triangle and it did not interfere with the actual story and only developed in the between-moments. I don’t feel one way or another about the love story itself, but I did appreciate the good balance of story and subplot. There were a lot of individuals in this story who needed justice and it was a tough set to juggle. I think Johnson did a great job, I really do.

This is My America reminds me of another book I read… I believe it was Dear Justyce I clearly remember the addendum at the end of the book – this story only has a happy ending because all the right things were in place and folks had the support they needed but usually, that’s not true. The same applies to This is My America. If Beverly wasn’t a cop, if Tracy hadn’t spoken to Angela, if she hadn’t written all those letters. There’s always a “what if,” and it hurts. Because in some stories, the “what if”s just mean a relationship wouldn’t happen. In This is My America, the “what if”s are the difference between life and death, and that’s the case in real life. All the time. I hate that we need books like his still to remind us of that.

I highly recommend reading This is My America. It’s a social justice book, and it is a book about Black pain. We need to bear witness. It’s well-written and tells an important story. I’d read it again, even though it would hurt just as much as it did the first time.

Setting

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Characters

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Pacing

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Personal Enjoyment

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Plot

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Writing

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Narrator

Rating: 4 out of 5.
send me your thoughts

Have you read this book or anything by this author?

If so, did you enjoy it? If not, what would you do differently?

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stay magical amber

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Other Books Published In July 2020

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Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

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