cover image The Truth About White Lies

The Truth About White Lies

Olivia A. Cole. Little, Brown, $17.99 (384) ISBN 978-0-7595-5412-2

Following the death of her grandmother, 17-year-old white Shania Hester is uprooted from her rural life to the city of South Blue Rock, where her grandmother lived, to help her mother settle her affairs. There, Shania finds herself caught between new friend Michelle Broadus, who is Black, and popular white siblings Catherine and Prescott Tane. Shania is challenged to confront her unconscious bias toward the gentrifying community while repeatedly denying her white privilege. Tired of “walking through the minefield” of being white, Shania befriends the Tanes, who seemingly move through the world unaffected by the racial turmoil surrounding them. But after a devastating revelation threatens the image of both her grandmother and Prescott, Shania must acknowledge how her family’s history affects her present, and choose to either return to the safety of ignorance or forge a new path forward. While Black characters suffer violence and are relegated to unwilling participants in Shania’s journey, Cole (An Anatomy of Beasts) portrays Shania’s justifications of racism, and her resistance to examine her privilege, with unapologetic gravity. Through astute narration, Cole thoughtfully unpacks the costly consequences of passivity in the face of racism and the “little white lies” told to maintain the status quo. Ages 14–up. Agent: Regina Brooks, Serendipity Literary. (Mar.)