When You Look Like Us

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Jan. 2021. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062945891.
Gr 9 Up–Black teen Jay Murphy lives in Newport News, VA, with his sister and grandmother. Jay’s mother is in prison for drug-related offenses, and his father died from an illness when he was young. Jay is an excellent student and teaches Sunday school at his church. Jay’s sister, Nicole, goes to a party on a Thursday evening with her boyfriend and best friend and doesn’t return home. Jay tries to cover for her as much as possible but eventually turns to the police for help. After Jay realizes the police won’t be much help finding his missing sister, he teams up with his friend from church and embarks on a harrowing journey to find out what happened to Nicole. Harris begins this debut novel with an author’s note about her personal connections to the characters. Harris begins the first chapter with a vivid auditory description of Jay’s neighborhood that will hook readers. This is a high-speed story that will draw teens in and keep them turning pages until they reach the unpredictable and thrilling ending.
VERDICT Fans of Jason Reynolds and Nic Stone will devour this novel. A must for YA collections.

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