Title: I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal & Kimberly Jones
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Fiction
Length: 272 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Over the course of one night, two girls with two very different backgrounds must rely on each other to get through the violent race riot that has enveloped their city.
Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.
When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.
They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.
I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal & Kimberly Jones is a fast-paced and engrossing young adult novel.
Newcomer Campbell Carlson is working the concession stands during a football game at her new school. With little help from the volunteers, she is working hard to keep up with orders when a racially charged fight breaks out. Campbell does not know anyone and she is utterly helpless as the fight descends into chaos. When shots ring out, Campbell knows she has to escape but she is paralyzed with fear. That’s when fellow classmate, Lena James, takes charge. She is desperately attempting to convince her boyfriend to pick her but he talks her into to meeting him instead. Lena and Campbell then begin an unexpectedly perilous journey that takes them into the heart of a peaceful protest that quickly devolves into another riot.
After her mom takes a job out of the country, Campbell has to move in with her dad and go to an entirely different school for her senior year. She has not yet made any friends and she does not have any extracurricular activities to keep her busy. With her dad leaving her on her own each weekend, Campbell is just hoping the year goes by quickly so she can go onto the next phase of her life. Although she and Lena have classes together, the two young women do not know one another.
Lena is confident and outspoken with a vibrant personality. She is sneaking around with her boyfriend behind her Pops’ back and she is hoping to spend time with him after she leaves the football game. Neither her Pops nor her cousin Marcus are fans of her man, but Lena does not put much stock into their opinions. She is extremely frustrated by his refusal to pick her up from the game, but she insists on joining him no matter how dangerous her and Campbell’s journey turns out to be.
Lena and Campbell have nothing in common and both have preconceived ideas about the other based on their skin color. Their differences are immediately apparent by their completely opposite reactions to the arrival of the police at the high school. Campbell, who is Caucasian, views the police as their saviors from a violent situation. Lena, who is African American, quivers with fear and absolutely refuses to go anywhere near the cops. With only one route open to escape the events at the high school, Lena and Campbell travel through a dangerous neighborhood only to discover they have walked into yet another highly volatile and charged situation. Lena and Campbell continue working together to escape their danger surrounding them.
Set against the backdrop of racial tension and violence, I’m Not Dying with You Tonight is a thought-provoking young adult novel with a socially relevant storyline. Campbell and Lena are engaging characters but both of them are guilty of making ill-thought out decisions. While Gilly Segal & Kimberly Jones bring the novel to a mostly satisfying conclusion, the ending is somewhat abrupt. I highly recommend this topical novel to older teen and adult readers.