We Deserve Monuments -- New YA Novel


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today I am sharing an amazing new young adult book. Although it is fiction, it is perfect for showing strong women, gay rights as well as civil rights (and the racism that once plagued the South). The book is We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds.

From the Publisher:

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.

A School Library Journal Best Book of 2022

About the Author

Jas Hammonds was raised in many cities and between the pages of many books. They have received support for their writing from Lambda Literary, Baldwin for the Arts, and the Highlights Foundation. They are also a grateful recipient of the MacDowell James Baldwin Fellowship. Their debut novel, We Deserve Monuments, won the 2023 Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent, among many other accolades.

From Me:

This book is so good!! I can understand why it won so many awards. It is amazing and powerful. It deals with friendships and relationships. Family relationships. Being gay and coming out. As well as past racial relationships and current ones. It is intense and yet there are fun parts and times you wish it was your life. There is mystery and there is suspense. Then there are those normal days of life. It is well written, and it is a book you will want to read.

As I read this book I wanted someone to discuss it with. I want to talk about the ending but I don't want to spoil the book for you. This book is full of life. It is full of problems. It is full of emotions. It pulls you in and you want to keep reading. The family dynamics is estranged and mysterious, but Avery is trying to figure out what really happened. Avery's father is in the story but plays a minor role. This book is mostly female characters, and they are strong. 

As a teacher I know how hard it can be to pick up your life and start over in a new school, town and state for your senior year. This is what happens to Avery. She is just off a bad breakup with her girlfriend as well as in many ways her two best friends. Her plan of not getting involved doesn't work and she begins to truly find herself as well as learn about herself and her grandmother who she only saw once. It is a book about so many things that I cannot even try to explain it all without telling you too many details. I can just say read this book. I already told Hazel she has to read it. I hope you will check it out.