When Kezi, Happi’s outspoken older sister, dies in police custody following wrongful arrest at a social justice rally on her 18th birthday, she’s immortalized publicly as “One of the Good Ones”—a generous young Black woman who “Was Going to Make a Difference.” Following the event, defiant Happi is pressed into a road trip with her oldest sister, Genny; Kezi’s secret girlfriend; and Happi’s former best friend to commemorate Kezi’s life and online activism. Traveling along Route 66 to a series of historical “safe places” for Black motorists listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book, Happi learns more about the history of racism in the U.S. and the overprotective sister she always spurned. In nonchronological order and through multiple perspectives, the Moulite sisters (Dear Haiti, Love Alaine) present an emotionally hard-hitting account of police brutality, following martyred activist Kezi, her grieving younger sister, and the siblings’ ancestors, nearly a century before, facing a similar racially motivated loss. Though a late-breaking plot twist jars, thrusting the story into a high-octane soap opera that never quite coheres, it’s an otherwise riveting story about an all-too-familiar series of tragedies and the all-too-familiar attitudes that surround them. Ages 12–up. Authors’ agent: JL Stermer, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"…Brilliant storytelling, sharp dialogue… An explosive look behind the hashtags at race and history, taking readers on a road trip mapped by love and grief. Close to perfection." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A thrilling read for fans of historical and realistic fiction. A great title for public and school libraries." —School Library Journal, starred review
“Thrilling and thrillingly intricate, genre-bending One of the Good Ones investigates intergenerational racial trauma through the eyes of three very different sisters while it testifies to the power of love and hope in spite of it. Astonishing!” —Laura Ruby, two-time National Book Award finalist and author of Bone Gap
“Maika and Maritza are conjurers, unearthing strange and sublime ways to tell a story that's both America's oldest and today's newest. One of the Good Ones is magic.” —Damon Young, author of What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker
“One of the Good Ones is more than a spectacular thriller — it’s also a compass, seeping into your soul and helping you redefine your true north. Impactful, insightful, and perfectly timed. Get ready. Maika and Maritza Moulite are the real deal.”—Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of The Escape Artist
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Keziah Leah Smith is a YouTube vlogger and activist. She's just turned 18, and she's excited about attending her first Black Lives Matter protest—but an interaction with police at the rally ends with Kezi losing her life. Her sisters Happi and Genny and her best friends Ximena and Derek decide to honor Kezi by taking a road trip on Route 66. This special road trip was designed by Kezi as a graduation gift to herself and a way for her to reconnect with her sisters. Kezi, a Black history enthusiast, used the Negro Motorist Green Book to craft her trip. Now her sisters will take the journey for her. Happi is a reluctant traveler as she laments her broken relationship with Kezi. As the trip unfolds, Happi learns not only about the history of her family's involvement with the Green Book but also how she can reconnect with the older sister she didn't get a chance to truly know. This book is largely about what version of being Black is deemed acceptable to white society. The question of Blackness as it pertains to acceptability is examined through several lenses. The novel makes it clear that there are multiple ways to be a Black person in America, and that acceptability doesn't equal safety. VERDICT A thrilling read for fans of historical and realistic fiction. A great title for public and school libraries.—Desiree Thomas, Worthington Lib., OH
Loved ones face the fallout after a young Black activist dies in police custody in Los Angeles.
“She was my sister before she became your martyr,” says Happi, the younger sister of Kezi, an activist and influential YouTuber who dies after taking part in a social justice rally on her 18th birthday. In the wake of police brutality, victims’ life choices are often brought into question in an attempt to justify their deaths. But Kezi is “one of the good ones,” a model student with a promising future. Temperamental Happi, by contrast, skips school, gets drunk at parties, and is now haunted by her last words to Kezi—Kezi, who loved history and was in love with her best friend, Ximena, a secret she kept from her parents, who are pastors. Through brilliant storytelling, sharp dialogue, and flashbacks, the narrative becomes a story within a story as Kezi delves into her family history beginning in the late 1930s. Her research sets the stage for a present-day trek inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide that helped Black American travelers stay safe during the Jim Crow era. This novel, the second collaboration by the sisters behind Dear Haiti, Love Alaine (2019), is an explosive look behind the hashtags at race and history, taking readers on a road trip mapped by love and grief.
Close to perfection. (maps, family trees) (Fiction. 13-18)