Title: One of the Good Ones
Authors: Maika and Maritza Moulite
Publisher/Publish Date: Inkyard Press/January 5, 2021
Edition/Pages: Kindle/384 pages
Genre: YA contemporary/mystery
Trigger warning: policy brutality, racism
ISN’T BEING HUMAN ENOUGH?
When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.
One of the good ones.
Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again.
After reading Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, Maritza and Maika Moulite quickly became two authors I added to my favorites list. One of the Good Ones was one of the books I’ve been anticipating for 2021. And it did not disappoint. I didn’t know what to expect from it. When I saw that it was being described as The Hate U Give meets Get Out (both of which I love), I instantly knew this would be a book that I HAD to read.
The story follows Kezi Smith who is a teen activist that mysteriously dies after a protest. Her family is left grieving in the aftermath as she’s remembered as “one of the good ones”. In Kezi’s honor, her two sisters, Genny and Happi, begin a journey along the famous Route 66 with The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s more to Kezi’s death than anyone would’ve guessed.
I really liked this book. It explores the phrase “one of the good ones” and whether it matters if a victim of racial brutality was indeed a “good one”. The writing was top-notch; I couldn’t put it down. The story sucked me in from the very beginning. It’s told from four different points of view and each view is written very well. The characters were fleshed out and relatable. I saw a little bit of myself in all of them, but more so in Happi. She is the complete opposite of her name. She has so much baggage that she holds onto. Grief, guilt, sadness, and anger weigh her down until she can’t bear it on her own anymore. But as the story progresses, she begins to unload some of her pain. I loved her growth throughout the story.
I was captivated by the realness of the story. It tackles many themes: police brutality, racism, generational trauma, sexuality, religion, mental health, the criminal justice system. One of the Good Ones is not an easy book to read. The inclusion of black history was necessary. You can tell the authors did their research because even though this is a work of fiction, sadly the racism that black people had to, and still, endure is very real. We see much of it through the road trip that Happi and Genny take with Kezi’s two friends.
I have two gripes with this story: the twist and the ending. I didn’t see the twist coming. Though I thought it was a clever one, I didn’t think it was well thought out on the character’s part. I’m not sure if that was done on purpose or not, but I had so many questions. What, why, and how? I just couldn’t wrap my head totally around it. The ending was abrupt; too abrupt for my liking. Because I was blessed to receive an ARC, I thought a chunk of the story was missing. But sadly it was not. I was left wanting SO MUCH MORE. This book left an openness in my heart that let’s me know that I’ll be thinking about it long after I read it.
I think One of the Good Ones is a book everyone should read. It’s written beautifully, it’s emotional, and paints a picture of what it means to be black in a place that doesn’t love you. It comes out January 5, 2021, so be sure to grab your copy!
RATING: 4.5 STARS
Thank you Netgally and Inkyard Press for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.