ARC REVIEW: We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds


We Deserve Monuments
by Jas Hammonds
Released November 29th, 2022
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Young Adult Fiction—Contemporary, Romance


Family secrets, a swoon-worthy romance, and a slow-burn mystery collide in We Deserve Monuments, a YA debut from Jas Hammonds that explores how racial violence can ripple down through generations.

What’s more important: Knowing the truth or keeping the peace?

Seventeen-year-old Avery Anderson is convinced her senior year is ruined when she’s uprooted from her life in DC and forced into the hostile home of her terminally ill grandmother, Mama Letty. The tension between Avery’s mom and Mama Letty makes for a frosty arrival and unearths past drama they refuse to talk about. Every time Avery tries to look deeper, she’s turned away, leaving her desperate to learn the secrets that split her family in two.

While tempers flare in her avoidant family, Avery finds friendship in unexpected places: in Simone Cole, her captivating next-door neighbor, and Jade Oliver, daughter of the town’s most prominent family—whose mother’s murder remains unsolved.

As the three girls grow closer—Avery and Simone’s friendship blossoming into romance—the sharp-edged opinions of their small southern town begin to hint at something insidious underneath. The racist history of Bardell, Georgia is rooted in Avery’s family in ways she can’t even imagine. With Mama Letty’s health dwindling every day, Avery must decide if digging for the truth is worth toppling the delicate relationships she’s built in Bardell—or if some things are better left buried.

Trigger/Content Warning(s): Racism, Homophobia, Cancer, Murder, Death, Emotional Abuse, Alcoholism, Police Brutality, Infidelity


Disclaimer: I was provided a physical galley by the publisher for the purpose of reviewing. This does not affect my opinion.

We Deserve Monuments is a monumental, heart-lurching book that one only sees come about ever so rarely. It is unequivocally brilliant.

Jas Hammonds truly knows their way with words. Her writing style is poetic, alluring. They deepen the story with thick emotion and a shifting plot line that welcomes readers to digest and take in each detail. One can easily lose themselves in the trance of Hammonds’ storytelling, and by the end of the story, crave for more.

It is difficult not to adore the characters in Monuments. Avery was the perfect center voice to show and tell this story. Hammonds took care to showcase Avery’s every thought, feeling, emotion as her life shifted and changed and opened to hidden truths and other outlooks and possibilities. The trueness of being a teenager was there in her character, and the imperfections of being human were there too.

The same went for Simone, Jade, Avery’s parents and Mama Letty’s characters as well. Their own stories took place on and off page, but not in any way that would overshadow Avery–rather in a way that added emphasis and substance and layering. The relationships between all of these characters was completely believable and intricate in the way that you were rooting for things to go well for each connection; and your chest would pang in empathy and sadness when it did not.

Hammonds made a very detailed plot, in which you had the sense of the direction it would go but only just enough so to keep you guessing. There were several points within the book where you were on the edge of your seat, thinking that this would be the place where things might get better, and then the reality of life and past troubles and traumas that went too long unanswered would kick back up. That level of craft and skill is a hook that kept me reading, and it was incredibly difficult to tear my eyes away from the pages at any point.

Overall, I fell completely in love with Jas Hammonds’ writing and We Deserve Monuments. This story carved a hole in my heart and slotted itself in to fit, and I will be thinking about it for a very, very long time. For that, I give it a starred rating. I look forward to what Hammonds might have next for their readers, and I highly encourage everyone to pick this book up. It is entirely worth the read.

Separators (1)AUTHORJas Hammonds was raised in many cities and between the pages of many books. They have received support for their writing from Lambda Literary, Baldwin for the Arts, and the Highlights Foundation. They are also a grateful recipient of a MacDowell James Baldwin Fellowship. We Deserve Monuments is her debut novel.

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