The year is 1992, the place, Los Angeles California. Ashely is a black student at mostly white high school, just trying to get all the enjoyment she can out of her senior year. Her friends are a little shallow, and her friend’s boyfriend spends a lot of time talking to her late into the night, but Ashley has bigger problems. Her distant sister is becoming more estranged from her family, and her long time caretaker, Lucia, will soon be leaving the country to reunite with her sons in Guatemala. However, soon Ashely’s world starts coming crashing down around her. Los Angeles begins to tear itself apart as the Rodney King riots unfold across the city. Although her parents have long sheltered her, Ashley can no longer ignore the injustice around her.
Although this book is set in the 1990’s, the parallels of 2020 are often chilling. Riots in the streets, racial injustices, stores and schools closing, fires raging seemingly endlessly, really it’s all just a little too familiar. However, despite the parallels, this book is able to explore the dark and the light, both in the mundane and extraordinary moments. With a richly written, first person perspective, it brings both familiarity and comfort simultaneously, and an outlook of what it really was like for a teen to navigate a changing world. It’s a perfect snapshot of adolescence, combined with realistic descriptions and sensory details that are very fitting for life in 1992. A great “before,” “during,” and “after” perspective of a traumatic event that is wide spread and effects a large group of people. A welcome read for anyone looking for hope for a better tomorrow.