We Are Not Broken

Little, Brown. Sept. 2021. 240p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780759554603.
Gr 9 Up–This work from Johnson (All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto) introduces readers to the concept of Black wholeness. The life of one Black family is honestly examined in a thought-provoking way. Lil’ Rall, Rasul, George, and Garrett have a bond that was forged over summers spent with their grandmother. They experienced challenges that many young Black people face, but were bolstered by their grandmother’s unwavering love and support. They learned how to love one another and fight with and for one another, by watching the ways their grandmother handled life. Nanny’s faith, wisdom, and practicality impacts each of the kids differently. She introduces them to entrepreneurship, self-advocacy, and self-love. Through her faith in God and family, she managed to create a space that allowed all of her grandchildren to express their complete humanity. The stories in this book are full of joy, love, humor, and pain. Lil’ Rall, Rasul, George, and Garrett, who all became successful young people, write letters depicting all the ways their grandmother’s love sustained them. Through this love letter to the matriarch of their family, Johnson highlights all the ways the world tried to break them but didn’t succeed. This is a multifaceted examination of all the ways their grandmother inoculated her grandchildren with her steadfast love, which would act as a buffer between them and a world bent on limiting their humanity and their joy.
VERDICT The themes covered in this memoir are ideal for high school students. Recommended for public and high school libraries.

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