Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

BookBrowse Reviews We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

We Deserve Monuments

by Jas Hammonds

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds X
We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Nov 2022, 384 pages

    Paperback:
    Feb 2024, 384 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Jane McCormack
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


In this YA debut, a biracial teenager learns dark secrets from her family history after going to live with her grandmother in a small Georgia town with a legacy of racism.

Jas Hammonds' debut young adult novel We Deserve Monuments provides a fresh look at the coming-of-age experience in America today. Avery Armstrong is uprooted from her comfortable upper-middle-class existence in Washington, D.C., and forced to complete her senior year of high school in the fictional small town of Bardell, Georgia due to her grandmother's rapidly escalating terminal illness and increasing need for care. She does not know much about ornery, sickly Mama Letty. The only fact with which Avery is armed is that her mother and grandmother harbor mutual resentments firmly anchored in the past, making the atmosphere around them thick with unspoken emotions.

In addition to the bewildering dynamics of Avery's new home, she must also acclimate to a new school in which she is a minority. According to the locals, there is "a white school and a Black school," but Avery is enrolled in the predominately white Beckwith Academy. Though she is a bit jarred by the clear racial lines that envelop Bardell, she adopts her mother's steadfast approach and invokes her unwavering mantra: "Focus Forward." Her intentions quickly dissolve, however, when she meets her intriguing and gregarious neighbor, Simone, and develops a crush. Avery is captivated, and Simone cajoles her into finding a little Bardell adventure with her best friend, Jade. Soon Washington, D.C., and all of its flourish feel very far away.

Hammonds' plot traverses the earmarks of coming of age with pitch-perfect range. Likable and credible characters navigate the tricky waters of adolescence, riding the crest of seemingly infinite dreams and possibilities until they crash into the sobering realization that possibilities are not certainties. Jade, Avery and Simone share those intimate firefly moments that flash bright and burn fast. The trio grapples with what Avery's father calls "the messiness of life" — sexuality, discrimination, familial history — and the realization that not all teen friendships survive the challenge of growing up. Hammonds captures that deep desire to explore and embrace one's identity that peaks in adolescence and is often hampered by the fear that one's authentic self might not be accepted by those one hopes to impress.

In addition to exploring the precarious nature of adolescent friendships and romance, Hammonds also delves into the challenging tightrope of parent/child relationships during the coming-of-age process. While Avery's parents hope to shield her from her mother's traumatic childhood and Mama Letty's dark secrets, Avery insists she must learn about her heritage regardless of the pain it may bring. As she spends more time with Mama Letty, she discovers the underbelly of Bardell: its sinister racist, bigoted and murderous past. This knowledge threatens to topple many relationships as Avery takes careful measure of all of those around her.

Jas Hammonds' We Deserve Monuments is a timely and refreshing coming-of-age novel addressing issues of Black and LGBTQ+ identity and examining how historical racism and bigotry reverberates through generations. Jettisoned into a new environment and learning the stories of those who came before her, Avery ponders how a world so beautiful could harbor so much pain.

Reviewed by Jane McCormack

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in January 2023, and has been updated for the February 2024 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Townsizing: Trendy or Timely?

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked We Deserve Monuments, try these:

  • The Making of Yolanda la Bruja jacket

    The Making of Yolanda la Bruja

    by Lorraine Avila

    Published 2024

    About this book

    Elizabeth Acevedo has said that reading Lorraine Avila feels like an "uppercut to the senses." You've never encountered an author with prose of this sensitivity and fire.

  • I'm the Girl jacket

    I'm the Girl

    by Courtney Summers

    Published 2024

    About this book

    More by this author

    The next searing and groundbreaking queer young adult novel from New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author Courtney Summers.

We have 5 read-alikes for We Deserve Monuments, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
More books by Jas Hammonds
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Clear
    Clear
    by Carys Davies
    John Ferguson is a principled man. But when, in 1843, those principles drive him to break from the ...
  • Book Jacket: Change
    Change
    by Edouard Louis
    Édouard Louis's 2014 debut novel, The End of Eddy—an instant literary success, published ...
  • Book Jacket: Big Time
    Big Time
    by Ben H. Winters
    Big Time, the latest offering from prolific novelist and screenwriter Ben H. Winters, is as ...
  • Book Jacket: Becoming Madam Secretary
    Becoming Madam Secretary
    by Stephanie Dray
    Our First Impressions reviewers enjoyed reading about Frances Perkins, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Half a Cup of Sand and Sky
by Nadine Bjursten
A poignant portrayal of a woman's quest for love and belonging amid political turmoil.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Flower Sisters
    by Michelle Collins Anderson

    From the new Fannie Flagg of the Ozarks, a richly-woven story of family, forgiveness, and reinvention.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

Win This Book
Win The Funeral Cryer

The Funeral Cryer by Wenyan Lu

Debut novelist Wenyan Lu brings us this witty yet profound story about one woman's midlife reawakening in contemporary rural China.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

M as A H

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.