From debut author Pamela Harris comes a timely, gripping teen novel about a boy who must take up the search for his sister when she goes missing from a neighborhood where black girls’ disappearances are too often overlooked. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Tiffany D. Jackson.
When you look like us—brown skin, brown eyes, black braids or fades—everyone else thinks you’re trouble. No one even blinks twice over a missing black girl from public housing because she must’ve brought whatever happened to her upon herself. I, Jay Murphy, can admit that, for a minute, I thought my sister Nicole just got caught up with her boyfriend—a drug dealer—and his friends. But she’s been gone too long. Nic, where are you?
If I hadn’t hung up on her that night, she would be at our house, spending time with Grandma.
If I was a better brother, she’d be finishing senior year instead of being another name on a missing persons list.
It’s time to step up, to do what the Newport News police department won’t.
Bring her home.
From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Black teen Jay Murphy lives in Newport News, VA, with his sister and grandmother. Jay’s mother is in prison for drug-related offenses, and his father died from an illness when he was young. Jay is an excellent student and teaches Sunday school at his church. Jay’s sister, Nicole, goes to a party on a Thursday evening with her boyfriend and best friend and doesn’t return home. Jay tries to cover for her as much as possible but eventually turns to the police for help. After Jay realizes the police won’t be much help finding his missing sister, he teams up with his friend from church and embarks on a harrowing journey to find out what happened to Nicole. Harris begins this debut novel with an author’s note about her personal connections to the characters. Harris begins the first chapter with a vivid auditory description of Jay’s neighborhood that will hook readers. This is a high-speed story that will draw teens in and keep them turning pages until they reach the unpredictable and thrilling ending. VERDICT Fans of Jason Reynolds and Nic Stone will devour this novel. A must for YA collections.—Michelle Kornberger, Havenview M.S., Memphis
“A powerful story about misperceptions, reality, and the lives lived in between.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“The book wisely distinguishes preconceptions from prejudice, making clear that the aggressions, microaggressions, and general oppression by white society is a whole lot different than a teenaged kid making a judgment call on his sister’s boyfriend…There’s emotional catharsis in Jay’s finally accepting that he does not have to be perfect to be human.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Harris unapologetically gives voice to the grief that a community can feel when the law fails them, as well as their need to, instead, rely on the hope, love, and power they bring to one another. The strength and endurance of the Black family reverberate throughout this achingly honest debut.” — Publishers Weekly
“A high-speed story that will draw teens in and keep them turning pages until they reach the unpredictable and thrilling ending. A must for YA collections.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
“[A] poignant debut novel. Harris creates a vividly drawn world, a rich cast of characters, and an authentic neighborhood.” — Booklist
About the Author
Pamela N. Harris was born and somewhat raised in Newport News, Virginia—also affectionately known as “Bad News.” A former school counselor by day, she received her BA in English and her master’s in school counseling at Old Dominion University, her MFA in creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a PhD in counselor education and supervision at The College of William & Mary. When she isn’t writing, Pam is rewatching Leonardo DiCaprio movies, chasing after her two kiddos, and pretending to enjoy exercising. When You Look Like Us is her debut novel. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.