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Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez
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Out of Darkness (2015)

by Ashley Hope Pérez

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2211779,173 (4.14)1

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Honestly, this book was just depressing. With a storyline reminiscent of that of Romeo & Juliet, Naomi and her young siblings are brought out of San Antonio to the small Texas town of New London. The twins' father, Henry, works on an oil rig, and as Naomi struggles with her memories of Henry from when she was a small child, she & the twins settle in and make friends, especially Wash, a colored boy from the town who helps them adjust to their new home. When a horrific explosion destroys the school, the unusual family must decide what to do in the aftermath. This is beautifully written, but there is a lot of awfulness within it. Naomi and Wash face so much prejudice for being Mexican and black, and I'm not sure the good moments outweigh the bad. It was a good, but tough, read.
  Breanne.Lawson | Jul 16, 2018 |
Henry, Naomi's step-father, and twins Cari and Beto's real dad, in a fit of newly found religious zeal to "make things right with God" takes them from their grandparents in San Antonio to live in the oil boom town of New London, East Texas, in 1937. This means more opportunity for the twins who are in Grade 3, smart, and white-skinned. But at 18 years old, Naomi is very self-aware of her dark skin, her poverty, and her ethnicity. At home, she struggles to overcome her hidden fears that the ugly monster Henry she remembers from her childhood will soon return, especially since she is older and looks like her mother once had. As Naomi endures ostracism at school and the burden of taking care of her family, Naomi finds herself attracted to Wash, an African-American from the New Egypt community who has befriended the twins and becomes smitten with her. The tension of their forbidden relationship is set against the historical backdrop of the horrific New London School explosion of March 18, 1937.

The story arc of Pérez's characters is well-suited for the setting. The story is tense, violent, and explodes, leaving few survivors to relate the tragic events that actually occurred. Racial tension and the race for money, oil, and souls in Depression Era East Texas was a powder keg waiting for a match, and Pérez found the fuse in this realistic narrative.

I would advise for mature students only, ages 16 , as there is intense and graphic violence of both sexual and physical nature.

Ashley Hope Pérez
OUT OF DARKNESS
Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Lab, 2015.
ARC provided by Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing ( )
  MsKathleen | Jan 29, 2018 |
A beautiful Romeo and Juliet inspired tale filled with pain, strife, and the the promise of something greater. ( )
  JCLHeatherM | Jan 27, 2018 |
This book was on my list of diverse titles to read this year. I’m not sure the description of the book would have grabbed me otherwise, but I’m so glad I read it. It was a beautiful, emotional story about a Mexican girl trying to live in an East Texas town in 1937. She’s treated differently than whites, of course, but also differently than blacks. It’s an interesting historical novel based on a true school explosion but it’s deeper than that, and I highly recommend it. ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Jan 9, 2018 |
No words, it was simply amazing. ( )
  Raven-Vogel | Oct 29, 2017 |
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Loosely based on a school explosion that took place in New London, Texas in 1937, this is the story of two teenagers: Naomi, who is Mexican, and Wash, who is black, and their dealings with race, segregation, love, and the forces that destroy people.

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