Henson’s debut novel sheds a light on white supremacy and other cloaked forms of racism.
While the events of Henson’s novel may seem too extreme to be true, they are based in reality. Sixteen-year-old Nate grew up in The Fort, a white-supremacist compound where hate and violence are preached and practiced daily. When Nate kills his abusive father in self-defense, he is sent to live with his estranged uncle. In a new town with a new alias, Nate desperately tries to come to terms with his old life and the darkness lingering inside—especially when confronted with people he’s been conditioned to hurt. In Brandon, a black schoolmate, Nate finds a true friend, but the past is calling, threatening to shatter his new existence and the safety of his friends. For many, the book will be a triggering read, but it is a necessary one—particularly when there are those too willing to deny the reality of racism. While her hand is heavy at times, Henson draws from true events to highlight what happens in white-supremacist circles, what happens to the people they target, and how white silence is also complicity. As Henson says in an author’s note, “It’s not the job of people of color to educate white folks on how they deserve to be treated and on what is and isn’t racist. This is a burden we’ve been putting on their backs for far too long.”
Especially for white readers, a timely and informative book. (Fiction. 14-18)