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The Truth about White Lies by Olivia A Cole
For my last weekend pick, I’ve selected a new book, The Truth about White Lies by Olivia A Cole. This book comes highly recommended and is blurbed by other YA authors such as Nic Stone, Tiffany D. Jackson, Mark Oshiro and Brendan Kiely, to name a few of my own favorites (see the jacket for even more!). This is the story of Shania Hester, a white high school junior who has moved to the new town of Blue Rock with her mother, after the death of her grandmother shatters her world back home in Morrisville. While Shania works evenings at the donut shop in a gentrified side of town, by day she attends Bard Academy of Excellence, an elite school for the city’s privileged class, the likes of siblings Catherine and Prescott Tate.
Shania is enamored with Catherine’s queen-like status, and she can’t resist Prescott’s charm. But something darker lurks just underneath the surface of this shiny new space. In between trying to make the right new friends and figure out the social codes for her new school, Shania seeks refuge in the school’s greenhouse where she is able to tend to the green thumb she inherited from her grandmother. She carries around an old almanac that belonged to Gram, and inside she finds a scrawled note that sets Shania on a scavenger hunt for missing information. As Shania tries to solve the mystery of her grandmother’s past, she comes face to face with the harsh realities of her present and what Bard means for students who aren’t rich or white. Shania must confront the effects of her own silence and greater complicity in a broken system set up to fail so many others.
Shania is a complicated character, one who struggles with her own sense of self and her desire to be a good person and to do the right thing. Readers might relate to her squeamishness around the topic of race and her desire to build up walls of protection in her mind when she doesn’t know how to respond to her classmates’ comments. This book prompts important, uncomfortable and very necessary conversations about race and privilege, especially for those young people who identify like Shania and are just coming to realize their own racialized identity as white people. I would recommend this book for readers of Bredan Kiely’s nonfiction text The Other Talk, Reckoning with Our White Privilege, or Frederick Joseph’s The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person.
This is my last weekend pick for the month of April, so thank you for joining me in these reviews - and happy reading!