I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson
Published by HarperCollins on September 6, 2022
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / People & Places / United States / African American & Black, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Bullying, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Prejudice & Racism, Young Adult Fiction / Thrillers & Suspense / General
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Bookshop
Also by this author: White Smoke, Santa in the City
New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson ramps up the horror and tackles America’s history and legacy of racism in this suspenseful YA novel following a biracial teenager as her Georgia high school hosts its first integrated prom. A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection!
When Springville residents—at least the ones still alive—are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all have the same explanation . . . Maddy did it.
An outcast at her small-town Georgia high school, Madison Washington has always been a teasing target for bullies. And she's dealt with it because she has more pressing problems to manage. Until the morning a surprise rainstorm reveals her most closely kept secret: Maddy is biracial. She has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington.
After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High's racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their image: host the school's first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it's possible to have a normal life.
But some of her classmates aren't done with her just yet. And what they don't know is that Maddy still has another secret . . . one that will cost them all their lives.
The Queen of Horror has done it again! I read this book and finished it in two days. I’m actually ready to do a re-read in October just for fun.
What Jackson does so well with this book is illustrate the different racial archetypes that exist in American society. She also lays out how racism continues to effect and construct itself in each new generation. Part of the inspiration for The Weight of Blood comes from the segregated proms of which the most recent documented one occurred in 2013.
Layers of Fear
The layers of fear that Jackson builds into her characters, especially Maddy and Kenny is so intriguing. Each character has depth because of the tension between their actions and choices that others easily judge them for and the reasons why they act that way based on real fears connected to social backlash.
Unfortunately, it is often not too much of a stretch to find the horror element in the African American experience. In particular, the act of Passing — when someone Black or a POC presents themselves as a White person — has a special kind of horror attached to it. It is a terrifying mask to wear. One wrong move and your entire status as a human being changes. Add a crazy, racist father and heartless teens in addition to the more well-known horror of racism and you have the perfect storm which is The Weight of Blood.
Masks of Fear
Masks are definitely a theme in The Weight of Blood. Everyone is wearing some type of social disguise. And those disguises seem to get peeled away painfully and slowly like the aftermath of a sunburn. As the characters change and grow they have to decide whether they want to keep their masks, create new ones or leave them all behind.
Speaking of Fear…
I just need to take a brief moment…very brief to avoid spoilers… but Maddy and her hair! Between the rain and the straightening comb, those scenes had me tense in my seat reading them. Number one rule for Black girls with natural hair is DO NOT GET IT WET once it’s been done. For obvious reasons this goes double for Maddy. But when you think about the extra element that she avoids water, as in she tries not to shower as often as she should, to make her hair last as long as possible, it is so sad.
The other component: her creepy daddy and that hot comb. Honestly, that has to be one of the more tense and scary scenes in the book. When Maddy’s father puts on his apron, gets the hot comb ready and gets out the grease…mannnnnnnn those scenes had me rubbing my own scalp in sympathy.
This was a brilliant twist on Stephen King’s Carrie. It incorporates the devastation of racism as the main horror element and it fits perfectly. Should you read this? Yes x infinity.
HAVE A SIP OF COCOA ☕…
I came for… the queen of horror
I stayed for… the intense, brilliant plot
Hot Cocoa Moments: Yo! The opening scene with Maddy’s hair and the rain. Straight tragic and the perfect way to start this story.
Would I Read it Again: Yes, already planning on it.
Educator Recommendations: Most teens are into horror, so this is a great book to read and discuss. Explore the meaning of the title with students. The author has spoken about it and the double meaning is very interesting. There are lots of points for discussion in this book especially centering around social behavior and how the tentacles of racism affect relationships.
Read my review of White Smoke: Book Review: White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson