The Problem with the Other Side

Soho Teen. Sept. 2021. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781641292054.
Gr 10 Up–A racially charged school presidential election leads to disaster on inauguration day for the students of Knight High School. Ulysses Gates, a Black teenager, and Sallie Walls, a white teenager, meet while acting in a play and quickly fall in love. What starts as a dream quickly turns into a nightmare as both of their sisters make them their respective campaign managers in the election for school president. The primary objective of Sallie´s sister Leona´s campaign is to block the Black and Latinx students from the neighboring town from coming to Knight High School as they have for the past 40 years. Ulysses’s sister, Regina, aims to combat racism in the school and have everyone feel like they belong. As the campaign intensifies, Ulysses and Sallie wonder if their love can survive in an atmosphere of hate. Hate speech, gun violence, and racism are not shied away from in the work. Knight High School is a microcosm for a variety of issues found in the real world. An author’s note prefacing the book states that the story was written as a way to process the events of the 2016 presidential election.
VERDICT A romance that raises uncomfortable yet very necessary questions, this is an excellent book for discussion and purchase in young adult collections.

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