‘One of the Good Ones’ gives light to timely tragedy

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Madison McAlpine, Staff

“One Of The Good Ones” by Maika and Maritza Moulite tells the timely story of an African-American family’s struggles to find their voice and identity in the light of tragedy.

Kezi Smith dies in police custody after attending a protest in honor of an African-American man lost to police brutality.

Kezi, an African-American activist, voiced her opinions through a YouTube page, and due to the power of her words she gained many subscribers. A straight-A student with a bright future, people described Kezi as “one of the good ones,” smart, determined and kind.

The novel is told through multiple points of view: Kezi, Happi, their great grandmother Evelyn, and Shaqueria. After Kezi’s death, her sisters, her girlfriend and her best friend take a trip that Kezi was planning for her birthday. The trip consists of safe and important places for a black person to visit, places were located in a “green book” that Kezi had mapped out. 

Throughout the novel,  the authors portray the raw emotions of these grieving characters, especially Happi. 

“‘I just got into it with my lovely younger sister. Happi literally hates everything about me. But honestly, what else is new?” Kezi wrote hours before the arrest.

Happi didn’t have a great relationship with her sister and she knows that Kezi felt that she didn’t like her. After her death, Happi confronts her guilt for not being a supportive sister. 

Happi’s emotions are extremely well-expressed. The reader feels her pain losing a sister she knew nothing about.

The “Green Book” also factors significantly in the plot. 

“‘Last year, my colleague Mr. Green and his wife Alma, along with a fellow named George Smith, began publishing a little book of safe places Negroes in need of services can go in New York,’” Evelyn’s father wrote.

The green book was first created 81 years before Kezi turned 18 and planned her trip to go to its locations. Kezi wanted to connect with her ancestors. 

“It’s for all of us,” Kezi said to her dad. 

She wanted to learn history, record it and share its importance.

Before Kezi died, she planned every detail of the trip, where she would stop, where she would eat, even which hotels she would sleep in. She called it her birthday gift to herself.

The authors did really well in switching first-person point-of-view in the book. Typically books that switch perspectives can be confusing, but throughout each different perspective, the reader  understands the importance of seeing all sides of grief.

Through the good and the bad, the emotions in “One of the Good Ones” is always clear. This young adult novel is recommended for anybody wanting to learn how history truly affects all of our lives in America.