Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers (#QP2024) Feature Review: Promise Boys by Nick Brooks

  • Promise Boys
  • By Nick Brooks
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
  • Release Date: January 31, 2023
  • ISBN: 9781250866974

At Urban Promise Prep school for boys it is understood the young men will follow rules in order to succeed and Principal Moore is well respected; however, inside the school walls, the students experience a different side to Principal Moore and the strict rules of school. During a basketball game, Principal Moore is murdered in his office and only the three students in detention are the prime suspects – Trey, J.B., and Ramon. Each has faced demerits in the past, and the wrath of Principal Moore.  Now in order to prove their innocence they have to reconcile with their past behavior and decisions to work together and find the real killer.

This will catch the attention of readers both from the appealing cover showing the three suspects in front of a police lineup, to the brief description promising a unique mystery in the boy’s school. As the story unfolds alongside the police investigation, readers will enjoy this fast-paced mystery of the murdered principal and the three boys under investigation, all who have their own stories and different points of view.  The reader is sure to go through their own list of suspects as clues unfold in this page turner.

Trey, J.B., and Ramon are all characters with depth and who are multidimensional so the reader is invested in their innocence.This mystery takes into account school demographics, strict school rules, and how preconceived notions are hard to change. The voices are different both in writing and in life experiences. Each character struggles with how they view themselves compared to how they are viewed by family, school officials, and authority figures. Readers will appreciate the side characters with the quality of friendships and non-traditional families shown in a positive light. 


Readers who need a quick hook right from the start will find it easy to continue reading as there are new insights and clues throughout.  The male centered points of view are different, yet all relatable and likable characters. This is a mystery that also deals with the social and economic sides of an urban prep school and who the school is actually serving.  Similar reads include Golden Arm by Carl Deuker, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, or for fans of Tiffany D. Jackson, Karen McManus, and Jason Reynolds

-Sarah Carnahan

Other Nominated Titles

Release Date: September 27, 2022

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 curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.