We Deserve Monuments
"An absolute must read." —Buzzfeed
"A gripping portrayal of the South's inherent racism and a love story for queer Black girls." —Teen Vogue
Family secrets, a swoon-worthy romance, and a slow-burn mystery collide in We Deserve Monuments, a YA debut from Jas Hammonds that explores how racial violence can ripple down through generations.
What’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.
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2022
Biracial (Black and white) high school senior Avery Anderson abruptly relocates from Washington, D.C., to Bardell, Ga., to help care for her terminally ill, estranged Black maternal grandmother, Mama Letty. But the strenuous relationship between Avery's mother and Mama Letty makes it difficult for Avery to get to know her grandmother, whose behavior toward Avery feels increasingly cold and hostile. Avery soon meets stunning next-door neighbor Simone, who is Black, and her friend Jade, white heiress to a downtown hotel. While exploring Bardell, Avery develops a crush on Simone, who she feels is "made of sunflowers." When Mama Letty begins opening up about her life and Avery's grandfather, Avery is heartened by this budding bond and connection to her heritage, and the more she learns about her family, the quicker she comes to grips with the town's deep interpersonal connections. Hammonds's deliberate prose crafts an expertly fleshed-out cast and a lushly described setting to thoughtfully examine questions of mortality and identity. This remarkable debut explores multigenerational trauma and how its effects leave severe wounds on the present while resonating into the future, making for a heartrending tale. Ages 14–up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary and Media.