Ashley Hope Pérez: Out of darkness (Hardcover, 2015, Carolrhoda Lab) 4 stars

Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school …

Out of Darkness

4 stars

Perez's book takes a real event (an unbelievably tragic explosion at a Texas school in 1937) and uses it to tell a fictional account of love between a young Mexican girl and a Black boy. This opens up a wide range of topics for her to consider: race, class, love, "passing," abusive relationships, the power of religious belief, and many others. Although only the explosion itself is real, Perez has clearly immersed herself in the time period, and the language and characters strike me as true. The book is a series of very short chapters which rotate the point of view among the main characters and keep the story moving. You can't help but root for the couple, but Perez also charts the brutal reality of the lives of people of color in an America mired in racism. This was the latest in my list of banned books, and yet another book that should not, of course, be banned.