Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Promise Boys by Nick Brooks

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In a very intense private school for boys who would otherwise not have an opportunity for education and success, the strict and often irrationally cruel Principal Moore made a lot of enemies during his career. One seemingly ordinary day, a gunshot goes off while three boys are in detention and Principal Moore is found dead. The three boys, JB, Ramon, and Trey, are immediately accused of committing the murder. They all have motives that seem to fall into place, but these boys believe that they are each innocent. While enduring questioning and scrutiny, they discover the flaws and corruption of the criminal justice system. Due to this, they decide to launch their own investigation and hopefully clear their names.

I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be extremely well-written and engaging. Not only did the characters and their individual struggles seem so real, but the mystery kept me guessing the whole time. I especially enjoyed how the author explored topics like corruption, race, and class while weaving it flawlessly into the murder-centered plot without anything feeling out of place. I also enjoyed how the book drew attention to how the media only shows the side of the story that they present to the audience. I thought that all of these highlights of society were done very well and flowed nicely with the plot of the story. However, I did feel like there were minor subplots mentioned throughout the story but were never resolved. For example, the students continuously run into a teacher outside of school and speculate about the different aspects of the teacher’s life, such as when she was seen with a police officer or went on maternity leave without being pregnant, but despite the amount of time that the author spent on this subplot, I felt like no conclusion was drawn and these seemingly important questions were left unanswered when the book ended.

One memorable thing about the book is the flawless blend of the exploration of difficult topics, like the parallels between race and class and the handling of the criminal justice system of these parallels, and the fast-paced and engaging murder mystery. I thought the author did a great job with this story and drawing attention to these issues while keeping the primary focus on the murder. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys murder mysteries or anyone who likes a diverse cast of characters who stand up against social issues and fight for themselves.

Reviewed by Caitlin F, Glen Allen Library

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