Reviews of We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds

We Deserve Monuments

by Jas Hammonds

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds X
We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Nov 2022, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jane McCormack
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About this Book

Book Summary

Family secrets, a swoon-worthy romance, and a slow-burn mystery collide in We Deserve Monuments, a YA debut from Jas Hammonds that explores how racial violence can ripple down through generations.

What's more important: Knowing the truth or keeping the peace?

Seventeen-year-old Avery Anderson is convinced her senior year is ruined when she's uprooted from her life in DC and forced into the hostile home of her terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty. The tension between Avery's mom and Mama Letty makes for a frosty arrival and unearths past drama they refuse to talk about. Every time Avery tries to look deeper, she's turned away, leaving her desperate to learn the secrets that split her family in two.

While tempers flare in her avoidant family, Avery finds friendship in unexpected places: in Simone Cole, her captivating next-door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, daughter of the town's most prominent family―whose mother's murder remains unsolved.

As the three girls grow closer―Avery and Simone's friendship blossoming into romance―the sharp-edged opinions of their small southern town begin to hint at something insidious underneath. The racist history of Bardell, Georgia is rooted in Avery's family in ways she can't even imagine. With Mama Letty's health dwindling every day, Avery must decide if digging for the truth is worth toppling the delicate relationships she's built in Bardell―or if some things are better left buried.

THE GHOST

THERE WERE APPROXIMATELY fifty people who resided in the sixteen homes that dotted Sweetness Lane, and all of them had heard the joke at one point or another. Out-of-town relatives, visiting friends, and mail carriers would examine the gaping potholes and pale patchwork lawns and homes that seemed to sag into the earth and ask, Sweetness? Where? Residents would laugh or roll their eyes or, if you dared to utter these comments in the presence of Letty June Harding, tell you to shut the fuck up. It didn't matter what Sweetness Lane looked like. Sweetness Lane was home. And home was always sweet.

Carole Cole had lived on Sweetness Lane since she was Carole Thompson. The blue brick ranch with the dogwood tree in the side yard was the only home she'd ever known. Darryl Cole had grumbled when he moved in after their wedding, complaining that grown men had no business moving into their mother-in-law's house. He promised one day they'd leave. But since the house was there and Darryl'...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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. 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 reverberate 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...continued

Full Review (503 words).

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(Reviewed by Jane McCormack).

Media Reviews

Chicago Review of Books
A pull-your-heart-out-with-its-teeth novel... [these] characters feel like real people, and so their big love, aches, and humor feel real too. Though the prose, plot, themes, and characters are expertly executed, Avery, the protagonist, carries the voice. Queer kids, Black kids, biracial kids ― and everyone else ― will find so much of themselves in her.

NPR
[We Deserve Monuments] gives us a complex and deeply injured family, and shows a path to healing.

Teen Vogue
A gripping portrayal of the South's inherent racism and a love story for queer Black girls.

Booklist (starred review)
[An] absolutely stunning debut.... Written from a place of love and healing, Hammonds' definitive standout will stay with readers.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Hammonds seamlessly weaves together mystery, romance, and a town's racist history, crafting a gripping and emotional story. A love story―romantic and familial―that is a must-read.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This remarkable debut explores multigenerational trauma and how its effects leave severe wounds on the present while resonating into the future, making for a heartrending tale.

School Library Journal (starred review)
Hammonds delivers a breathtaking exploration of vital issues wrapped up in a mystery, challenging readers to reexamine their own truths. A must-purchase for all libraries serving high school readers.

Author Blurb Brandy Colbert, award-winning author of The Voting Booth and Little & Lion
We Deserve Monuments is an exquisite story about the value of family, the danger of long-held secrets, and the beauty of first love. I can't wait to read everything Jas Hammonds writes.

Author Blurb Christina Hammonds Reed, New York Times bestselling author of The Black Kids
We Deserve Monuments is an absolutely beautiful achievement. I felt this book in my heart, in my very marrow itself.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Townsizing: Trendy or Timely?

Small townThe city versus country trope is as old as Aesop's fabled mice, yet the debate continues to warrant new narratives. In Jas Hammonds' We Deserve Monuments, the protagonist, Avery Armstrong, puts this very debate to the test when she moves to the small fictional town of Bardell, Georgia. Raised in the cultural mecca of Washington, D.C., Avery views the move as temporary, something to be tolerated for a short period of time until she can get back to the life she knows. Her initial misgivings are not unfounded. Many individuals who are contemplating moving from a diverse city fear that small towns harbor small minds, allowing for insidious racism, discrimination and homophobia to prevail. And while Avery does confront these very issues, she ...

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