Published by Sourcebooks Fire in August 2019
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An NAACP Image Award Nominee, I’m Not Dying with You Tonight follows two teen girls—one black, one white—who have to confront their own assumptions about racial inequality as they rely on each other to get through the violent race riot that has set their city on fire with civil unrest.
Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.
When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.
They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.
I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal is a thought-provoking must-read. The story follows two teenaged girls, one black and one white, as they navigate through the racially charged chaos together that erupts at a Friday night high school football game.
I’m Not Dying with You Tonight was a page-turner. It had a lot of action as the two teens survived the evening together. From the start, it was very clear that they made assumptions about each other based upon their race, and it was interesting seeing them gain a new perspective as the night progressed. Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal truly wrote a seamless story that alternated between Lena’s and Campbell’s perspectives. I honestly couldn’t put the book down.
It was just towards the end that I felt a bit unfulfilled. I’m Not Dying with You Tonight encompasses a single night. So obviously, I shouldn’t expect to see a significant change in the characters, and there honestly was character growth in terms of their view of each other. The stereotypes they had assumed were fractured. Despite that, however, I couldn’t help but want more resolution. In particular, I wanted to see some solutions to their individual problems. Both Lena and Campbell have personal issues involving people close to them. I would have really loved to see an additional day or so to see how they resolved their problems respectively.
Regardless of my issues with the ending, I’m Not Dying with You Tonight is a must-read in my book because of the conversations it can start. The assumptions Lena and Campbell make about each other occur in real life and aren’t from a place of malice. Only through honest conversations and a willingness to be better will people be able to shake those stereotypes. Personally, the scene where Lena asks Campbell if she ever really tried to be part of the community resonated with me because I think that’s one of the issues Asian Americans are guilty of. Yes, we are a minority. Yes, we face our own racially charged problems. At the end of the day though, I think, historically, Asian Americans tend to stay in the comfort of their own culture.
Have you read I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal? What other books would you recommend to spark conversations about race equality? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!