One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
Inkyard Press / Harlequin
Publication Date: January 5, 2021
Happi is still mourning the loss of her sister, Kezi, who died in police custody after attending a protest. Kezi, who was Black, was “one of the good ones” — a bright student, activist, and educational YouTuber with a dedicated following. Reluctantly, Happi agrees to join her older sister Genny, Kezi’s former girlfriend, and a friend on the graduation road trip Kezi never got to take, using the route Kezi planned on Route 66 based on her passionate research of the Negro Motorist Green Book, the book that helped Black drivers navigate trips through the Jim Crow South.
The story unfolds gradually, with flashbacks from Kezi’s perspective, chapters from members of Kezi and Happi’s family history (centered around use of the Green Book), and some chapters from Shaqueria, a character who’s connection to the story isn’t immediately apparent. Though there are moments of levity, especially in Happi’s snarky narration, the raw grief of Kezi’s loved ones is front and center, complicating relationships and driving the road trip plot forward. Happi’s character is particularly dynamic as she works through the complexities of grief and guilt. The immediacy of the conversational tone draws the reader in, even with multiple timelines and narrators. While the story would be compelling without it, an astonishing twist in the third act makes One of the Good Ones unforgettable.
This unique take on police violence and white supremacy is drawing apt comparisons to Get Out and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I Am Alfonso Jones, the graphic novel by Tony Medina, also uses historical context to ground a modern story about police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement. Readers looking for timely social commentary who enjoyed Mark Oshiro’s Anger is a Gift or Kim Johnson’s This Is My America will appreciate a new story about uncovering systemic racism.
—Megan Jackson (she/her)
Other Nominated Titles
- The Life I’m In by Sharon Flake (January 5, 2021)
- The Project by Courtney Summers (February 2, 2021)
The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.
Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will use that list of nominated titles to select a final list and Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are also made available on The Hub.