Illustration by Debra Cartwright

By Stephanie Younger • 

Originally published on HCPL TeenScene’s Read & Review •  

A 16-year-old Black teen who has witnessed the two fatal shootings of her childhood best friends, tries to make sense of the world. Starr Carter witnessed the first shooting when she was ten, in an impoverished neighborhood, that went unsolved. After that shooting, Starr’s parents send her to a predominately white suburban school far from home. By sixteen, Starr felt no connection to the neighborhood kids she started school with. That changes when Starr is the sole witness to the police shooting death of her other best friend, who was unarmed. The shooting gained national attention. After the shooting, Starr starts to notice injustices. As Starr started noticing casual racism in her community, she suspects that it may cost her one of her friendships. The effect of the shooting changes Starr who slowly grows into the responsibility of using her best weapon, her voice.

I thought the book was influential as a teenager close to Starr’s age. I couldn’t put it down and it was a real page turner. The story line was moving, and influential for me as a Black girl around Starr’s age. I felt the author was trying to tell me that it’s worth speaking up about things that are relevant to me even if there is a price to pay. When Starr demanded that police brutality needs to end was a very empowering moment in this book. Readers will feel inspired because it is important for teenagers like Starr to have their voices heard.

Stephanie Younger is a 15-year-old writer based in Central Virginia.