The Life I’m In

Scholastic. Jan. 2021. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338573176.
Gr 9 Up–Charlese Jones, best known as the bully to Maleeka Madison in Flake’s The Skin I’m In, had a great life until her parents’ death. After this trauma, her family has a hard time continuing to function and her older sister is named her legal guardian. Char, who is African American, is on a downward spiral and is sent to live with her grandparents. On the way there, she is lured into human trafficking. She must find a way to help herself and the others with her. The powerful idea that you can’t understand why a person acts the way they do without fully understanding their story takes center stage in this novel. Teens will be able to connect to Char, and learn from her. The topics discussed are relevant and portrayed realistically, though the book may be triggering for some readers. If they have read the first book the character development will take on a deeper meaning, but this is truly its own story.
VERDICT The long-awaited companion novel to The Skin I’m In does not disappoint. Recommend to readers who enjoyed Kim Johnson’s This Is My America.

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