A striking debut novel about a college freshman grappling with the challenges of attending an elite university with a disturbing racist history, which may not be as distant as it seems.
"A searing debut.” –Entertainment Weekly
Savannah Howard thought everyone followed the same checklist to get into Wooddale University:
Take the hardest classesGet perfect gradesGive up a social life to score a full ride to a top school
But now that she’s on campus, it’s clear there’s a different rule book. Take student body president, campus royalty, and racist jerk Lucas Cunningham. It’s no secret money bought his acceptance letter. And he’s not the only one. Savannah tries to keep to head down, but when the statue of the university’s first Black president is vandalized, how can she look away? Someone has to put a stop to the injustice. But will telling the truth about Wooddale’s racist past cost Savannah her own future?
First-time novelist Kristen R. Lee delivers a page-turning, thought-provoking story that exposes racism and hypocrisy on college campuses, and champions those who refuse to let it continue.
In Memphis, Tenn., Savannah Howard skipped parties and worked hard to attend Ivy League Wooddale University on scholarship, just like her mother always dreamed. But after the Black college freshman arrives on the predominantly white school's campus, immediately experiencing microaggressions as well as witnessing the vandalism of a statue of the university's first Black president, Wooddale's history of racism starts becoming clear. Savannah cannot stand by in silence, and her online callout draws the attention of white Lucas Cunningham, a Wooddale legacy dedicated to continuing with so-called "jokes" that involve racist slurs. And though she finds solace in new friends Tasha and Benji, who are both Black, Savannah struggles with the pressure to "not be too Black" at school, the shifting reliability of her allies, and the disappointment that abandoning Wooddale might bring. As Wooddale's administration does "a whole lot of nothing" about the mounting number of racist incidents on campus, Savannah rises to her calling as an activist, demanding justice for her community, even if it may cost her everything she's worked for. Lee's thoughtful debut, a timely, quickly paced look at the trauma Black students often face in white institutions, brings a refreshingly vulnerable honesty to this narrative centering one Black collegiate transition. Ages 14–up.