An historical coming-of-age story that looks at the impact of racism on youth.
Disclaimer: I received an eARC copy of this book from Netgalley, the author, and FFBC Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This blog contains affiliate links. I make a small commission when you decide to buy books via the Amazon or Book Depository purchase links available in the book review's post.
Thank you to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for giving me the opportunity to participate in this blog tour! The synopsis of this book gave me such Bridge to Terabithia vibes that I knew I had to read it – and I’m so glad I did!
The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones
Published April 5, 2020 by Wattpad Books
Data from Goodreads
It’s the summer of 1955. For Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised mostly by his white father, race has always been a distant conversation. When he’s sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in small-town Alabama, his Blackness is suddenly front and center, and no one is shy about making it known he’s not welcome there. Except for Juniper Jones. The town’s resident oddball and free spirit, she’s everything the townspeople aren’t―open, kind, and full of acceptance.
Armed with two bikes and an unlimited supply of root beer floats, Ethan and Juniper set out to find their place in a town that’s bent on rejecting them. As Ethan is confronted for the first time by what it means to be Black in America, Juniper tries to help him see the beauty in even the ugliest reality, and that even the darkest days can give rise to an invincible summer.
My Review: A Must-Read Coming-of-Age story
This story could not have come out at a more opportune moment in time. With the focus right now on Black Lives Matter and educating oneself on racism towards Black people, this book really highlights the prevalence of racism towards Black youths, both in the past and in the present.
The Pros: What worked for me
- I adored Juniper and Ethan. Both of them are so different, and yet, they work so well together. Juniper brings such happiness to the novel with her crazy antics and posotivity. Ethan is the more grounded one but it is nice seeing him loosen up around her.
- I’m glad that this novel did not have a very strong romance angle. While it’s not a bad thing, I think it would have taken away from the importance of the story’s message.
- The author does not hold back the punches when it comes to moments of racism that Ethan faces. Even I found myself visibly shaken by some of these instances.
- There are so many nuanced interactions where people become aware of their racist tendencies. To me, this is just as important – people realizing the consequences of their actions (or lack of action) needs to shown.
- THE ENDING HAD ME IN TEARS. I did expect it but I had gotten so fond of all of the characters that it still hurt me.
The Cons: What I didn’t like
- This author brings the reader back to present day at the very end of the story to show where the characters are now. However, the characters still sounded like they were teenagers, when they were much older. That’s really my only (small) criticism.
This novel is geared towards the YA audience and I can assure you, I will be recommending it to every teen I know. Stories that allow readers to make a connection with the characters and understand the deep impact of racism deserve to be spread. I love this novel and everything it signifies and for that reason, I’m giving it a 4.5/5 stars.
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