This Town Is on Fire (Hardcover)
From the critically acclaimed author of When You Look Like Us comes a page-turning YA contemporary novel about what happens when the latest “Becky” on the internet is your best friend.
A lot is up in the air in Naomi Henry’s life: her spot as a varsity cheer flier, her classmates’ reaction to the debut of her natural hair, and her crush on the guy who’s always been like a brother to her. With so much uncertainty, she feels lucky to have a best friend like Kylie to keep her grounded. After all, they’re practically sisters—Naomi’s mom took care of Kylie and her twin brother for years.
But then a video of Kylie calling the cops on two Black teens in a shopping store parking lot goes viral. Naomi is shaken, and her town is reeling from the publicity. While Naomi tries to reckon with Kylie, the other Black students in their high school are questioning their friendship, and her former friends are wondering where this new “woke” Naomi came from. Although Naomi wants to stand by her best friend, she now can’t help but see everything in a different light.
As tensions in her town escalate, Naomi finds herself engaging in protests that are on the cusp of being illegal. And then a bomb explodes, and someone is found dead. Will Naomi be caught in the center of the blast?
Golden Kite Award winner Pamela N. Harris has crafted a taut novel that delves into big issues, and is the perfect next read for fans of I’m Not Dying with You Tonight and The Black Kids.
Pamela N. Harris was born and somewhat raised in Newport News, Virginia—also affectionately known as “Bad News.” A former school counselor by day, she received her BA in English and her master’s in school counseling at Old Dominion University, her MFA in creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a PhD in counselor education and supervision at The College of William & Mary. When she isn’t writing, Pam is rewatching Leonardo DiCaprio movies, chasing after her two kiddos, and pretending to enjoy exercising. When You Look Like Us is her debut novel. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.
“[Naomi’s] voice and her convictions are clear. Her growth from passivity to activism to realizing some hard truths about growing up is especially striking, amid other outstanding characterizations.” — ALA Booklist (starred review)
“By highlighting issues of economic disparity, racism, and white privilege, Harris weaves a nuanced social narrative in which a Black teenager is forced to reckon with her white best friend’s racist actions. Complex.” — Publishers Weekly
“A critical approach to coming-of-age into Black adolescence. Explosive.” — Kirkus Reviews
"Nuanced and realistic. An important addition to high school and teen collections; hand to readers who have read I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal, The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed, and Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne." — School Library Journal