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When You Look Like Us
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When You Look Like Us
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"A high-speed story that will draw teens in and keep them turning pages until they reach the unpredictable and thrilling ending. A must for YA collections." (School Library Journel)A timely, gripping...
"A high-speed story that will draw teens in and keep them turning pages until they reach the unpredictable and thrilling ending. A must for YA collections." (School Library Journel)A timely, gripping...
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  • "A high-speed story that will draw teens in and keep them turning pages until they reach the unpredictable and thrilling ending. A must for YA collections." (School Library Journel)

    A timely, gripping teen novel about a boy who must take up the search for his sister when she goes missing from a neighborhood where black girls' disappearances are too often overlooked, from debut author Pamela Harris. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Tiffany D. Jackson.

    When you look like us—brown skin, brown eyes, black braids or fades—everyone else thinks you're trouble. No one even blinks twice over a missing black girl from public housing because she must've brought whatever happened to her upon herself. I, Jay Murphy, can admit that, for a minute, I thought my sister Nicole just got caught up with her boyfriend—a drug dealer—and his friends. But she's been gone too long. Nic, where are you?

    If I hadn't hung up on her that night, she would be at our house, spending time with Grandma.

    If I was a better brother, she'd be finishing senior year instead of being another name on a missing persons list.

    It's time to step up, to do what the Newport News police department won't.

    Bring her home.

About the Author-

  • Pamela N. Harris was born and somewhat raised in Newport News, Virginia—also affectionately known as "Bad News." A former school counselor by day, she received her BA in English and her master's in school counseling at Old Dominion University, her MFA in creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a PhD in counselor education and supervision at The College of William & Mary. When she isn't writing, Pam is rewatching Leonardo DiCaprio movies, chasing after her two kiddos, and pretending to enjoy exercising. When You Look Like Us is her debut novel. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Preston Butler deftly narrates this high-tension audiobook about a teenager's search for his sister. When Nicole goes missing, Jayson Murphy first assumes she's off with her shady boyfriend. Once he begins to think something more sinister has happened, he struggles to get anyone in authority to care enough to help. As portrayed by Butler, Jay is witty and sarcastic one minute and piercingly vulnerable the next as he tries to track down Nicole against all odds. Butler also creates wonderfully distinct voices for those who help and hinder Jay along the way, including his loving grandma, MiMi; clever preacher's daughter Riley; and sly, drug-dealing Javon. Butler's dynamic narration makes the vividly described world of Jay's neighborhood come alive. N.M. � AudioFile 2021, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 25, 2021
    After their father died of cancer and their mother was sent to prison for driving under the influence, Jay Murphy and his sister, Nic, who is older by a year, were sent to live with their grandmother in the Ducts, a public housing complex in Newport News, Va. Now 16, Jay juggles the stresses of high school, the odd jobs he’s working to secretly save up for his grandmother’s retirement, and being Nic’s keeper. After years of covering for Nic whenever she’s high on bliss, a drug she receives from her neighborhood drug dealer boyfriend, Jay decides he is done worrying about Nic and trying to get her back on the right path. His resolve, though, breaks down when Nic disappears and the police dismiss his concern, considering Nic just another missing Black girl in their county and a “blisshead” besides. Harris unapologetically gives voice to the grief that a community can feel when the law fails them, as well as their need to, instead, rely on the hope, love, and power they bring to one another. The strength and endurance of the Black family reverberate throughout this achingly honest debut. Ages 14–up.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from November 1, 2020

    Gr 9 Up-Black teen Jay Murphy lives in Newport News, VA, with his sister and grandmother. Jay's mother is in prison for drug-related offenses, and his father died from an illness when he was young. Jay is an excellent student and teaches Sunday school at his church. Jay's sister, Nicole, goes to a party on a Thursday evening with her boyfriend and best friend and doesn't return home. Jay tries to cover for her as much as possible but eventually turns to the police for help. After Jay realizes the police won't be much help finding his missing sister, he teams up with his friend from church and embarks on a harrowing journey to find out what happened to Nicole. Harris begins this debut novel with an author's note about her personal connections to the characters. Harris begins the first chapter with a vivid auditory description of Jay's neighborhood that will hook readers. This is a high-speed story that will draw teens in and keep them turning pages until they reach the unpredictable and thrilling ending. VERDICT Fans of Jason Reynolds and Nic Stone will devour this novel. A must for YA collections.-Michelle Kornberger, Havenview M.S., Memphis

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from October 15, 2020
    A high school junior fights to find his sister before times runs out. Black 16-year-old Jayson Murphy hopes to make it one step closer to leaving the Ducts, a paycheck-to-paycheck neighborhood in Newport News, Virginia. Jay does his best to make his paternal grandmother, MiMi, proud. After his father passed from cancer and his mom's struggles with addiction put her behind bars, MiMi stepped in for Jay and his older sister, Nic. While Jay tries to ease MiMi's stress, Nic stays out all hours with her shady, drug-dealing boyfriend. Jay is tired of covering for Nic; after receiving an unintelligible call, he decides this time is the last. But after a few days, he realizes she is missing. Though his White best friend from school and the Black preacher's daughter he teaches Sunday school with are willing to help, Jay has trouble trusting others to care as much as he does. This deftly written tale peels back the layers of a much-maligned neighborhood and its vibrant, complex residents--and exposes the dark, violent underbelly of White America. Ultimately, Jay's community proves to be stronger and more powerful than any bad reputation. Harris' book shines a light on the repercussions of institutionalized racism on Black communities and the plight of missing Black girls. Readers will ponder this story long after they turn the final page. A powerful story about misperceptions, reality, and the lives lived in between. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    November 1, 2020
    Grades 9-12 Harris' poignant debut novel shines a light on the scant value society and its institutions place on the lives of BIPOC individuals. In it, Jay is forced to continually cover for his sister, Nic, who hangs out with the wrong crowd. Reaching his breaking point, Jay refuses to be her keeper any longer, and, immediately after, Nic fails to return home. When she's deemed missing, the police barely bother to search for her; she's another lost Black girl, undeserving of their time. It is left to Jay, therefore, to find his sister and bring her home. Harris creates a vividly drawn world, a rich cast of characters, and an authentic neighborhood in her book. Jay is a dynamic, complicated main character who can be both stubborn and a pushover depending on the circumstance. Themes of family, neighborhood, identity, isolation, and belonging are explored through the lens of the tragic, real-world issue of Black and Brown girls going missing every year without much of the world bothering to take notice, search for them, or care.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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    Quill Tree Books
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