We Deserve Monuments manages to deliver family drama, a compelling MC, and a story which gets to the heart of those who deserve recognition. From the title alone, I knew I was going to love We Deserve Monuments. But I don’t think I was prepared for how much. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
What’s more important: Knowing the truth or keeping the peace?
Seventeen-year-old Avery Anderson is convinced her senior year is ruined when she’s uprooted from her life in DC and forced into the hostile home of her terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty. The tension between Avery’s mom and Mama Letty makes for a frosty arrival and unearths past drama they refuse to talk about. Every time Avery tries to look deeper, she’s turned away, leaving her desperate to learn the secrets that split her family in two.
While tempers flare in her avoidant family, Avery finds friendship in unexpected places: in Simone Cole, her captivating next-door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, daughter of the town’s most prominent family—whose mother’s murder remains unsolved.
As the three girls grow closer—Avery and Simone’s friendship blossoming into romance—the sharp-edged opinions of their small southern town begin to hint at something insidious underneath. The racist history of Bardell, Georgia is rooted in Avery’s family in ways she can’t even imagine. With Mama Letty’s health dwindling every day, Avery must decide if digging for the truth is worth toppling the delicate relationships she’s built in Bardell—or if some things are better left buried.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
We Deserve Monuments has to be one of my favorite contemporary reads of the year. I was so excited for the biracial representation and I was not disappointed. But even more so, We Deserve Monuments is about secrets. It’s about family mystery. I kept wondering exactly how much we are entitled to know about our family members. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and all of those percolated thoughts come to a head in We Deserve Monuments. Not only about past trauma and loss, but also the good memories, the kernels of joy or discovery.
And Hammond’s debut examines family secrets. The experiences we omit and traumas we pass on. Emotional from start to finish, We Deserve Monuments is also about friendship which blooms despite the odds and reconciling death. At its core, this debut is also about who gets monuments built of them. All these people who deserve recognition at the very least, and celebration. It’s a theme and constant question that makes the title and the essence of this book shine.
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With cycles of trauma that become seemingly impossible to change, society has a way of honoring those who don’t deserve it. I can’t imagine how much different our world would be if those who deserved to be celebrated were. Interspersed with stories from the past, We Deserve Monuments also shows the things we still can’t bear to breathe aloud. It’s easy to get swept away with the family drama and the themes, but this book is also a tender look at friendship and love. Find We Deserve Monuments on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.