Keziah Smith, social activist dubbed, “One of the Good Ones”, died a victim of police brutality the day of her 18th birthday. The famous YouTuber was attending a protest for supporting African American lives, her legacy left to her two sisters, Genny and Happi. When the sisters embark on Kezi’s dream road trip on Route 66, they will discover the secrets that lie entwined in their family’s history and try to come to terms with the ugly reality of their country.
Ellie: One of the Good Ones was able to deliver in certain aspects, but failed to do so in others. What I found the book succeeded in was getting across the importance of racism and the social injustices in the world. It is easy to turn on the news and the marches, protests, and the lives stripped from the earth but this book does something that no news station does. It personalizes the aspect of racial injustice and shows you just how communities and families are affected by it. The news fails to show the suffering and change families must undergo due to a life lost at a protest, but this book shows you that. It brings out even more sympathy and a wanting to change how the world currently is. As much as I really wanted to love this book, I felt that this book fell short in the true plot. I felt as though since the book was able to deliver so well in getting the point of racial inequality across, the plot suffered and fell short. The story seemed to drag out at some parts, and there were some chapters of pure history that, speaking honestly, I skimmed very lightly over. I think the story picked up towards the end, but was a little too late to redeem the other 200 pages of the book I dragged myself through. I would recommend this book for learning purposes, and understanding the importance of the month of February. However, if you want a light, quick read, this is not the book I would recommend for you.
Sarah: The aspect I genuinely enjoyed about this book was the complexity of the characters. Three perspectives channel the fear that snakes through the cracks of the earth. Happi, who hates herself and the world. Shaqueria, whose story lies untold. Kezi, whose life is cut short by the unwavering passion in her heart. Each character displays a distinct voice that teaches you to know them blind. It makes the storytelling unique in a way I had not anticipated. They have a certain depth that must be perceived with time, almost like putting together a puzzle. I expected a journey of grief and a discovery of the power of freedom, but was given something much more sensitive. Their interactions represent the intricate art of forgiveness, for oneself and those around them. They demonstrate the passion that lies within this young generation, the fearless energy that allows them to persevere. One of the Good Ones weaves a story of evolution. Fueled by frustration, Happi, Genny, and their friends learn the power of a voice in the dark by following Kezi’s dream journey that takes them through the corners of her mind. Fears, dreams, and everything in between blend together into the chaotic scribble that is life. This book is worth it for a character focused reader.
Lauren: While I didn’t have very high expectations for this book, I was intrigued by the concept. This book is built upon themes regarding the racism prevalent in society, an all too relevant truth in today’s world. And while it’s not exactly a joyous topic, it’s important and I was optimistic and the book did not did not disappoint on that front. In the wake of Keziah’s death, her parents and two sisters are made the new face of the equality movement, a broken family struggling to pick up the pieces while trying to ensure that nobody else has to feel their pain. This book asks many hard questions about why exactly a person needs to meet a set of requirements in order for their death to be considered a loss, and why some deaths are cruelly brushed aside. I loved the message of the book, and found many parts of it incredibly moving, however I didn’t exactly love the book itself. Some parts of the book definitely dragged, and at times there was such a heavy emphasis on the message that the plot was left behind. The occasional lack of direction made it a bit difficult to read, however it definitely drew me back in with a plot twist later in the book and continuously amazing writing. With compelling characters and stunning word choice, this book highlights the racism and police brutality in our country, and how it is all too easy to dismiss until you or a loved one are a victim. If you’re willing to power through the slow parts, I’d say this book is definitely worth the read.
“But we are more than the good ones. We are the bad ones. We are the okay ones. We are the amazing ones. We are the nothing-to-write-home-about ones. We are the beautiful ones. We are just…ones.”