Fluid, fast-paced, tense, stimulating, genuine.

FALL READS: I’M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal. October 2019.

In one night, two teenage girls who were merely classmates have to escape a racially charged high school fight that escalates to shots fired, looting, fires, and police descending with riot gear. One girl’s keenness for how “these scenes play out” and the other’s wherewithal trigger their survival modes and, refreshingly, their human kindness keeps them together to escape through citywide chaos.

Each chapter of I’M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT is written from genuine, authentic voices that reveal how distinctly presumptuous Lena and Campbell are. Sometimes the presumptions are stereotypical; other times, they are honest thoughts. They all are quick and stark; some are funny, all are self-reflecting. Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal weave in and out the fanatical nuances of racial ignorance (characters in the same space and time but clueless of the others cultural being), nuances of allegiance and egos in Black love, friendships, and loyalties (heated exchanges between Black males on territory and survival), nuances of white privilege and communal protection (acknowledging where Campbell can move or not), and the nuances of female teenagers whose innocence are transparent and uncompromised (girls instinctively catching hands or jumping before an attacked to protect each other).

Awesome elements in I’M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT are the multiple climaxes as the girls run through fighting crowds, busted buildings, smoke/fire, and away from police—only to get closest to death at home! This reader shouted at characters and yelled when they proclaimed the title. In all that is conflicted with society–as Segal and Jones present in this book–it is reassuring that this YA novel delivers soundly the truth that humanity can still rise.

(Maybe a sequel can guide humanity to healing.)

Amazing 5-star read. We should anticipate a great audiobook!

By Candace J. Semien