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Out of Darkness
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A 2016 Michael L. Printz Honoree "This is East Texas, and there's lines. Lines you cross, lines you don't cross. That clear?" New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the...
A 2016 Michael L. Printz Honoree "This is East Texas, and there's lines. Lines you cross, lines you don't cross. That clear?" New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the...
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  • A 2016 Michael L. Printz Honoree

    "This is East Texas, and there's lines. Lines you cross, lines you don't cross. That clear?"

    New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. They know the people who enforce them. But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.

    Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school disaster in American history—as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.

 

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About the Author-

  • Ashley Hope Pérez is the author of the YA novels Out of Darkness (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), The Knife and the Butterfly (Carolrhoda Lab, 2012), and What Can't Wait (Carolrhoda Lab, 2011). Her debut novel What Can't Wait won a spot on the 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for YA list, and The Knife and the Butterfly was included in the 2015 YALSA Popular Paperbacks list. Ashley grew up in Texas and taught high school in Houston before pursuing a PhD in comparative literature. She is now a visiting assistant professor of comparative studies at The Ohio State University and spends most of her time reading, writing, and teaching on topics from global youth narratives to Latin American and Latina/o fiction. She lives in Ohio with her husband, Arnulfo, and their son, Liam Miguel. Visit her online at http://www.ashleyperez.com/.

Reviews-

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from June 1, 2015

    Gr 9 Up-The tale's layered plot begins with a prologue set hours after an actual deadly U.S. school disaster in New London, TX in March 1937. Readers are plunged into the grief and horror of the moment long enough to meet important protagonists and wonder at the event before being transported back to September 1936. From this point, the book focuses primarily on Naomi, a 15-year-old of Mexican heritage, and her younger biracial twin half-siblings. Recent arrivals from San Antonio, the children are all living with the twins' white father, and Naomi is forced to navigate the racially divided oil-mining town, learn to run a household, and to face her increasing interest in an African American youth. This third person story, recounted in multiple perspectives, slowly discloses the origins of the teen's apprehension for the recent transition. The insertion of black-and-white photos and stark black pages interrupt the narrative much like the metaphoric explosions in the lives of the diverse protagonists. Additionally, an increased use of white space leading to the book's climax seems to slow, and almost stop time. This book presents a range of human nature, from kindness and love to acts of racial and sexual violence. The work resonates with fear, hope, love, and the importance of memory. The author's note and acknowledgements pages give more background on the disaster. VERDICT Set against the backdrop of an actual historical event, Perez's young adult novel gives voice to many long-omitted facets of U.S. history.-Ruth Quiroa, National Louis University, IL

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 1, 2015
    A Mexican-American girl and a black boy begin an ill-fated love in the months leading up to a catastrophic 1937 school explosion in East Texas. The powerful story opens with the legendary school explosion in New London and then rewinds to September 1936. Naomi has begrudgingly left behind her abuelitos in San Antonio for a new life with her younger half siblings, twins, and their long-absent white father, Henry. Now a born-again Christian, Henry struggles to atone for his sins. The siblings struggle to fit into the segregated oil town, where store signs boast "No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs." The precocious twins read better than half the senior class, and dark-skinned Naomi is guilty of not only being Mexican, but also of being "prettier than any girl in school." Their one friend is Wash, a brilliant African-American senior from the black part of town. Perez deftly weaves multiple perspectives-including Henry and "the Gang," the collective voice of the racist students-into her unflinchingly intense narrative, but the story ultimately belongs to Naomi and Wash. Their beautifully detailed love story blossoms in the relative seclusion of the woods, where even stepfathers can't keep them apart. But as heartbreaking events unfold, the star-crossed lovers desperately hope that any light can penetrate the black smoke cloud of darkness spreading around them. A powerful, layered tale of forbidden love in times of unrelenting racism. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Kirkus Reviews

    "A Mexican girl and a black boy begin an ill-fated love in the months leading up to a catastrophic 1937 school explosion in East Texas. The powerful story opens with the legendary school explosion in New London and then rewinds to September 1936. Naomi has begrudgingly left behind her abuelitos in San Antonio for a new life with her younger half siblings, twins, and their long-absent white father, Henry. Now a born-again Christian, Henry struggles to atone for his sins. The siblings struggle to fit into the segregated oil town, where store signs boast 'No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs.' The precocious twins read better than half the senior class, and dark-skinned Naomi is guilty of not only being Mexican, but also of being 'prettier than any girl in school.' Their one friend is Wash, a brilliant African-American senior from the black part of town. Pérez deftly weaves multiple perspectives―including Henry and 'the Gang,' the collective voice of the racist students―into her unflinchingly intense narrative, but the story ultimately belongs to Naomi and Wash. Their beautifully detailed love story blossoms in the relative seclusion of the woods, where even stepfathers can't keep them apart. But as heartbreaking events unfold, the star-crossed lovers desperately hope that any light can penetrate the black smoke cloud of darkness spreading around them. A powerful, layered tale of forbidden love in times of unrelenting racism."―starred, Kirkus Reviews

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