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YA Review: We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds

Title: We Deserve Monuments

Author: Jas Hammonds
Year published: 2022
Category: YA fiction (mystery, romance, LGBTQ)
Pages: 384 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map)USA (GA)

SummaryWhat’s more important: Knowing the truth or keeping the peace?

Seventeen-year-old Avery Anderson is convinced her senior year is ruined when she's uprooted from her life in DC and forced into the hostile home of her terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty. The tension between Avery’s mom and Mama Letty makes for a frosty arrival and unearths past drama they refuse to talk about. Every time Avery tries to look deeper, she’s turned away, leaving her desperate to learn the secrets that split her family in two.

While tempers flare in her avoidant family, Avery finds friendship in unexpected places: in Simone Cole, her captivating next-door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, daughter of the town’s most prominent family―whose mother’s murder remains unsolved.

As the three girls grow closer―Avery and Simone’s friendship blossoming into romance―the sharp-edged opinions of their small southern town begin to hint at something insidious underneath. The racist history of Bardell, Georgia is rooted in Avery’s family in ways she can’t even imagine. With Mama Letty's health dwindling every day, Avery must decide if digging for the truth is worth toppling the delicate relationships she's built in Bardell―or if some things are better left buried.

Review: Look at that cover; it appeals to me!

Avery's move to Georgia is fraught with tension: changing schools and towns her senior year of high school; moving in with her cantankerous grandmother Mama Letty; navigating new friends and social rules; and learning about her family's ties to a racist and violent past. This novel handles all of these serious issues well within a story well told

I liked Avery and her friends and especially that Simone and Jade immediately brought Avery into their circle, making her feel welcome and supported. The LGBTQ issues were treated with care and fit naturally into the story and setting.

The historical mystery of two murders in this small town is done really well with racial tensions high amongst the people in Bardell, GA and is exacerbated by secrets and family tensions.

Challenges for which this counts: none

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