"One of the Good Ones is magic.” —Damon Young, author of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker
A shockingly powerful exploration of the lasting impact of prejudice and the indomitable spirit of sisterhood that will have readers questioning what it truly means to be an ally, from sister-writer duo Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.
ISN’T BEING HUMAN ENOUGH?
When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.
One of the good ones.
Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again.
"Astonishing!" —Laura Ruby, two-time National Book Award finalist and author of Bone Gap
"Brilliant" —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Thrilling" —SLJ, starred review
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This dazzling novel from sisters Maika and Maritza Moulite—rising stars in the world of young-adult fiction—humanizes America’s brutal history of racism and the ongoing fight for justice. When their perfect-seeming activist sister, Kezi, is found dead after she’s arrested at a Black Lives Matter rally, disaffected siblings Happi and Genny Smith are plunged into the national spotlight as the family struggles to cope with Kezi’s shocking death and nearly instantaneous martyrdom. Hoping to reconnect with Kezi’s true legacy and with each other, Happi and Genny set off on a life-changing road trip with a well-loved copy of The Green Book, a cherished guide for Black travelers during much of the 20th century. Moving, timely, and suspenseful, One of the Good Ones is ultimately a celebration of family and friendship. The book challenges readers to look beyond the all-too-frequent headlines about murdered Black Americans and consider the full impact of the lives cut short far too soon.
When Kezi, Happi's outspoken older sister, dies in police custody following wrongful arrest at a social justice rally on her 18th birthday, she's immortalized publicly as "One of the Good Ones" a generous young Black woman who "Was Going to Make a Difference." Following the event, defiant Happi is pressed into a road trip with her oldest sister, Genny; Kezi's secret girlfriend; and Happi's former best friend to commemorate Kezi's life and online activism. Traveling along Route 66 to a series of historical "safe places" for Black motorists listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book, Happi learns more about the history of racism in the U.S. and the overprotective sister she always spurned. In nonchronological order and through multiple perspectives, the Moulite sisters (Dear Haiti, Love Alaine) present an emotionally hard-hitting account of police brutality, following martyred activist Kezi, her grieving younger sister, and the siblings' ancestors, nearly a century before, facing a similar racially motivated loss. Though a late-breaking plot twist jars, thrusting the story into a high-octane soap opera that never quite coheres, it's an otherwise riveting story about an all-too-familiar series of tragedies and the all-too-familiar attitudes that surround them. Ages 12 up. Authors'
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I'm going to leave my rating at 3 stars because I am just.so.torn. When I started this book, I told my book club I thought it would be a top 5 read of the year. And it was... until I got to part 3.
Kezi is a growing activist. She has a youtube channel, where she discusses her thoughts on issues affecting the Black community. Finally, she and her girlfriend are going to a rally in person. There, she tries to step in to stop an unwarranted arrest, and she ends up arrested. She is thrown around, roughed up by police and dies. Her two sisters and best friends go on her senior road trip to honor her memory.
This really had a chance to be just.. so important. A staple in showcasing what the Black community is facing. I won't lie, reading it made me uncomfortable, but it's supposed to. I had to really take a look at my white privilege and it was just so tough. I never would think of things the Black community has to face, like leaving your purse or bag up front with you so if you get pulled over, you aren't reaching in the back. That could be taken as aggression. That just broke.my.heart. I cannot imagine and will never be able to understand.
But then I got to part 3. I won't say what happens, but I feel like it really just... cheapened the story? I mean this book made me take a long, hard look at myself, and then it just switched paths so suddenly? This book doesn't have a 'happy' ending, but it isn't the ending I was expecting. I want to say so much, but I'm not because I don't want to spoil it.
I want to recommend this book for the first two parts. I mean, they were impactful. I just don't know how I feel about part 3 and the ending. I'm just conflicted.