Saturday, March 18, 2023

Book Review - Promise Boys by Nick Brooks



Promise Boys by Nick Brooks is about three teenage boys of color accused of murdering their principal.  The Urban Promise Prep School’s goal is to turn disadvantaged youth into men with bright futures. The school utilizes strict rules and rigid disciplinary guidelines, and expects their students to adhere to its policies if they want to continue to have a place there. Principal Moore has changed the trajectory of many students’ lives for the better over the years.

When Principal Moore turns up dead in his office, the police believe they have their suspects. Three students, J.B., Ramón, and Trey, each had their own disagreement with the principal hours before he was murdered.  The three students know of each other but they have never interacted much.  They’re not sure if one of them is hiding something, as the three of them were the closest to the murder scene and each of them has a motive. However, they each maintain that they are innocent and didn’t kill anyone. The trio decides to put their suspicions aside of each other and work together to figure out who might be behind the murder. As they go through the events that occur the day of the crime, they realize someone might be keeping a secret and knows more than they are letting on. Will the boys be able to figure out the mastermind behind the murder before their futures are ruined?

The book is told from multiple points of views along with multiple timeframes.  At first, it was a lot to keep track of the different character testimonials and what happened before and after the murder. However, as the story progressed most of the events started overlapping, and a few details did differ depending on who was narrating. As a reader, I had to decide if one character was lying or if another was lying. It was interesting trying to guess who was telling the truth and who might be the culprit.

The story weaved themes of social injustice, racism, and gang violence. It also highlighted the dreams and hopes of the young men and how they wanted to rise above the life and circumstances they were given. One of the characters wanted to break free from the gang life that his cousin is deeply embedded with, and instead own a restaurant. Another character wanted to prove that he could be something more than a street thug, but he was always afraid to ask for help because of the judgements people made about him due to how he looked.

The mystery behind the murder was predictable but it was fun trying to guess who was being deceitful. I thought the book was a good read as it portrayed the power and influence educators have over their young charges. The book also imparted a few important lessons to readers such as not making judgements based on a person’s looks as well as having empathy. 

**Disclosure - I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion**

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