This Town Is on Fire

By Pamela N. Harris

Hardcover edition

Publisher HarperCollins Imprint Quill Tree ISBN


This Town Is on Fire

In stock


Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism,Language: Racial or Ethnic Epithet/Slur,Language: Strong Language,Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes,Violence: General

From the critically acclaimed author of When You Look Like Us comes a page-turning YA contemporary novel about what happens when the latest “Becky” on the internet is your best friend. Sits perfectly on shelves next to I’m Not Dying with You Tonight and The Black Kids!

A lot of things are in flux in Naomi’s life—her mom’s new job, her decision to try out for the varsity cheer squad, even the new hairstyle she decided to debut the first day of her senior year. But she knows her best friend, Kylie, has got her back through it all. Since Naomi’s mom was Kylie’s nanny, she and Kylie grew up together practically inseparable —even though Kylie’s family is white and privileged, while Naomi’s family is Black and has to work to make ends meet.

But when a video of Kylie calling the police on two Black teens in a Target parking lot goes viral, Naomi is left shaken, and her town is reeling from the publicity. As much as she tries to justify Kylie’s actions, the evidence is mounting against the girl she’s known her entire life. Naomi tries to reckon with Kylie and her family, the questions from other Black kids at school, and her own missteps in the video’s aftermath. But what happens when the tension reaches a boiling point, and Naomi is caught in the center of the blast?

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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Naomi Henry is a popular cheerleader with a best friend who is practically her sister. She is also one of the few Black students in a primarily white school and town and deals with everything from microaggressions to blatant racism on a regular basis, even from her close friends. Naomi is trying to balance finding her own interests, like natural hair care and joining the dance team, and maintaining her existing relationships with friends who can't relate to those things. Then Naomi's white best friend, Kylie, goes viral in the worst way-for calling the police on two Black teen boys. Naomi is caught in the middle, her loyalty to Kylie and her family at war with her feelings about racial injustice and her own lived experience. And when it turns out that Kylie's actions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her family's racism, Naomi is spurred toward activism that has extreme and devastating consequences. The author's depictions of Naomi's complex relationships and mixed feelings are appropriately nuanced and realistic for a coming-of-age story, and the dual time lines present in the story add an interesting element of suspense. However, the culminating events of the book feel rushed and lack a detailed resolution. VERDICT An important addition to high school and teen collections; hand to readers who have read I'm Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal, The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed, and Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne.-Alison Glassα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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