Weekend Pick for March 10, 2023
Check out our weekly suggestions!
Are your students looking for book recommendations?
Send them to browse through the picks for this or past years.
For the picks from 2022 click here
For the picks from 2021 click here
For the picks from 2020 click here.
For older picks click from 2019 click here.
For the even older picks click here.
This week for the celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8, 2023), I want to return to the incredible, poetic work of Jas Hammonds’s We Deserve Monuments. Framed with the question: What’s more important: Knowing the truth or keeping the peace? Hammonds’s debut novel explores themes of intergenerational trauma, friendship, love, and the secrets we keep.
The story follows 17 year old Avery Anderson who in the middle of her senior year moves to small town Bardell, Georgia from her life in DC after news of her grandmother’s terminal illness. Upon Avery’s arrival, she quickly realizes there are unspoken past secrets and hostile tensions between her grandmother, Mama Letty, and her mother, Zora. Impatient with the lack of communication, Avery decides to investigate deeper unearthing drama and new depths to her mother and grandmother’s lives.
Despite these family tensions, Avery discovers friendship in unexpected ways with Simone Cole, her next door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, the daughter of the town’s most prominent, wealthy family–whose murder remains unsolved. As Avery grows closer to Simone and Jade, she discovers both a budding first love and hints at more insidious histories connecting Bardell and Avery’s family. While confronting Mama Letty's declining health, Avery reaches a breaking point– to dig for the truth at the risk of disrupting her newly built relationships or to leave some truths buried.
We Deserve Monuments serves as the perfect pick to celebrate the complex, interconnected relationships between generations of all women. Through Avery’s story and Hammonds’s expert writing, we learn about the tension and deep love that bonds together three generations of mothers and daughters as well as the beautiful, safe spaces created in our chosen friendships and romantic partnerships. This novel brings to light the hard truths of history while calling for actions in the present to revel in the unique gift each person offers to our collective communities. Hammonds ends their acknowledgements declaring, “...dear reader, whoever you may be. You deserve monuments, too.”
As I read this alongside YA students this week, I learned so much about how layered stories like We Deserve Monuments can offer a multitude of entry points for each of us as readers as well as provide rich conversation that invites the sharing of our own stories. As one student said, “This is the perfect book club book!” I cannot recommend this slow burn mystery, powerful exploration of the bonds that define us, and story of love highly enough. May you discover pieces of yourself along the journey to celebrate, and may you honor the histories and stories of others.
If you want to hear more from Jas, I highly recommend their conversation with fellow YA author, Mark Oshiro and encourage you to check out their instagram page and website which is full of playlists, discussion activities, and more.
Until next week, keep reading!