The Black Girls Left Standing | Juliana Goodman | Book Review

The Black Girls Left Standing had me turning the pages and empathizing with the main character. The main character is Beau, and as the novel begins Beau is at her sister Katia’s funeral. Katia was shot and killed by a white off duty police officer who thought she was trying to break into his house. The family is looking to press charges but there are also rumors of drug sales and drug use which does not work in their favor. All of this is devastating for Beau, and she becomes determined to clear her sisters name.

Beau and her family are from a lower economic status. She has been fortunate this year to attend a school in another town that has a strong focus on art. When the shooting occurs, she tries to avoid discussing it in school because she doesn’t want to have the reputation of the being the sister of the Black girl who was murdered by a cop. This type of reputation carries alot of stigma and Beau already feels a stigma from being of a lower economic class. It doesn’t take long though before her two worlds really blending together.

The character of Beau holds alot of anger. She is angry at herself for not being there for her sister; angry at her sister for being in a position that got her shot; angry with her parents for not being there; and she is angry that her life often feels like a dead end road. Beau uses art as a way to express her feelings. She is very talented. I wish I could have seen some of the drawings that were described. I really enjoyed the way that this book was layered in terms of the way that it looked at race and economic status.

By searching for the truth, Beau puts herself into danger. It starts with the Twitter account that she and a friend start as a way to get anonymous answers. Each hint they get seems so real but, there are also messages warning them away from the truth. Throughout all of this Beau is experiencing mixed emotions. She doesn’t want to put her friends or herself in danger but, she’s afraid that if she doesn’t speak up then her sisters name will be forgotten. She also really believes that the key to this mystery is finding Jordan (Katia’s boyfriend) as it is believed he was with her the night she was shot. I could feel Beau’s dislike for Jordan jump off the page the first time she talked about him. She truly believes that he is the reason that her sister died – and that if he had never come around she would still be alive and sharing a bedroom with her sister.

It’s honestly hard to believe that this is the debut of Juliana Goodman. It is so wonderfully written. The conversations, actions, and emotions all felt real. She paints the grief that Beau and her family are experiencing so that it is seamless. I really did feel like I was experiencing the seven stages of grief along side Beau. Especially feelings of anger and desperation. While these characters are grieving life is still going around them – it does not stop because of their grief. There is still school, friendships, relationships, violence, gangs, drugs, parental abandonment, low wages, rumor etc. – all of this does not stop. The people that are still alive must continue to fight and through it all there are still The Black Girls Left Standing.

Rating: 4 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

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