The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris

     The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534445451, 2021

Format: ARC

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Alex has a lot to juggle- helping to care for his younger brother Isaiah after the deaths of their parents, grieving his best friend Sean, the older brother of his girlfriend Talia, and trying to figure out what it means to be a teen when the world sees you as a Black man. However, Alex’s greatest burden is supernatural- whenever he touches anything, he can see flashes of the future. When one of these visions reveal that Isaiah will die soon, what is Alex supposed to do?

Morris layers in so much around and on top of the magical elements- a history of trauma, racism, and slavery; the difficulties trying to experience joy and childhood amid so much responsibility and grief; what it means to be a man in the first place. Every character – Alex, Isaiah, Talia, the boys’ aunt – felt realistic and rounded, with depth and nuance. Anyone who has experience with anxiety knows the feeling of flashing forward into the future uncontrollably, even without magic. Morris tackles so many issues– anxiety, overt and subconscious racism, assumptions about rap music, body image, code switching, waiting to have sex until you’re ready- without seeming preachy.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Naming the white antagonist Karen was a bit on the nose, but that’s a nitpick. This book was fabulous.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Read Alikes: Concrete Rose, Patron Saints of Nothing, Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All (for the supernatural elements)

Who should buy this book? Middle schools (I’d recommend for 8th grade – some uses of the F word/reading level), High schools, public libraries

Where would you shelve it? YA

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Very much yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Rachel Chiel Katz, Schechter Boston, Newton, MA

Date of review: 2/28/2021

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