We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds

Published on February 17, 2023

a young black girl with curly hair and a side shave, standing behind sunflowers

Reviewed by Samantha Calderone

Avery Anderson’s life is uprooted when her family moves to Bardell, Georgia to take care of her, estranged, terminally ill grandmother. Avery has spent her life living by the family motto “focus forward” but when she is thrust into a decades-old family conflict, she must decide if she is willing to continue living in fear or face her family’s painful past. Determined to get to know her grandmother, Mama Letty, before it is too late, Avery decides to ask her all the questions her mother never answered. The more Avery learns about her grandmother, the more she begins to realize that this small Southern town has a deep-rooted racist history.

While Avery struggles to understand her mother’s discontent with Mama Letty, she also begins to develop friendships with Jade Oliver, a member of the town’s most prominent family, and Simone Cole, her grandmother’s next-door neighbor. As their friendship builds, Avery begins to see a connection between her family and the Oliver’s. When secrets are uncovered, Avery must decide if she is willing to confront her family’s painful past, or let their secrets remain hidden forever.

We Deserve Monuments combines a sweet high school romance with a slow-burn mystery, all while exploring how racial injustices can impact generations of families. Jas Hammonds has crafted an expertly woven story that focuses on love and loss, while also looking at the impacts of social injustices, through a relatable main character. Avery’s portrayal as a queer, biracial teen adds new elements to a coming of age story, by voicing the fears and questions many teens face today in a safe space. Each chapter of the novel is filled with emotion, and the overall storyline has elements likely to resonate with all teens struggling to fit in.

Hammonds has not only created a story worth telling, but has managed to create a resounding message taken from the book’s very title: We Deserve Monuments.  

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