I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal
Review by Lauren
Source: library copy; all opinions are my own
Official Summary (add to Goodreads): Lena and Campbell aren’t friends.
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.
Review: I’m Not Dying with You Tonight was one of the seven YA fiction nominations for the Cybils Awards, which I helped judge (you can find all the winners here). I think this book makes a nice addition to the recent fiction about race, police violence, and prejudice. These are all things that many teens have to deal with on a daily basis, and books like this one allow some to see themselves and others to learn how to empathize and become more open-minded.
The book goes back and forth between Lena and Campbell’s point of view, which I really appreciated it. One girl is black, and the other is white. They go to the same high school but that doesn’t mean they have had all of the same experiences or view things in a similar fashion. I’m Not Dying with You Tonight takes place in a 24-hour period. Lena and Campbell are thrown together at a high school football game when fights break out and shots are fired. Trying to get to Lena’s boyfriend so he can drive them home, the two venture out into their city and witness riots and looting.New #bookreview on the blog: I'm Not Dying With You Tonight Click To Tweet
I think it would have been easy to make Campbell the really ignorant white girl, but the authors handled her character well. She was ignorant about things, and she sometimes said things she shouldn’t have, but her experience over that night does change how she views things and she becomes a lot more empathetic toward Lena and others like her. At the same time, Campbell isn’t this racist character – she doesn’t always understand how a situation is different when you’re black (like not outright trusting the police), but she’s learning. As for Lena, she has her own ideas about Campbell, referring to her as a white, rich girl. They both learn things about each other throughout the evening, and I loved that no matter what, they stuck it out together.