The Cost of Knowing
The Cost of Knowing

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Annotation: Sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus's curse of seeing the future distracts him from being and doing his best, but when he sees his little brother Isaiah's imminent death, he races against time, death, and circumstances to save him.
Catalog Number: #255106
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Pages: 327 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-534-44545-5 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8904-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-534-44545-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8904-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2020017545
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Morris' moving novel addresses the burden young Black boys experience in a world that has deemed them criminal. Ever since the car accident that killed his parents, 16-year-old Alex Rufus has had prophetic powers that are more of an annoyance than a blessing. With each touch of a person or object, Alex is able to see a few seconds into the future, depending on how often he has touched the object. It isn't until he accidentally sees his younger brother's death that he realizes he hasn't been the best older brother. This thoughtful, character-­rich novel is alternatingly joyous and heartbreaking as Alex acknowledges all of his previous traumas, while also allowing himself to be more vulnerable with his younger brother. Morris (SLAY, 2019) explores many aspects of Alex's life that may distract from the emotional central story, but every detail is important in understanding how Alex moves in the world and how the world views him. A great pick for fans of Nic Stone's Dear Martin (2017) or Kim Johnson's This Is My America (2020).
Publishers Weekly
Since surviving the car accident that killed his parents four years ago, Chicagoan Alex Rufus, 16, has secretly lived with near-constant anxiety as well as a -curse--psychic visions that show him the future of anything or anyone his palm touches. Faced with a vision of his solitary 12-year-old brother Isaiah-s impending death, Alex throws himself into bridging the gap grief drove between them before time runs out. But Alex isn-t the only Rufus with secrets, or with powers, and it will take both siblings, together, to tackle the curses that have ruled their young lives. Morris (Slay) delivers a searing indictment of respectability politics as seen through the eyes of two Black boys with every reason to fear the anti-Black society in which they live and in which generations of their ancestors have died. Despite some muddled worldbuilding around the Rufuses- powers, Morris succeeds in blending moments of -Black boy joy,- superhuman abilities, intergenerational trauma, mental health (including a description of self-harm), and loss into a resonant story of fraternal love that first compels, then devastates, and will be remembered for a long time. Ages 12-up. Agents: Quressa Robinson and Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary. (Apr.)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 8 Up After a tragic accident that left him and his brother orphaned, Alex Rufus sees visions of the future connected to items that he touchesfrom a mundane object being used over and over to the tragic preview of his best friend's death. Alex avoids physical contact as often as possible but knows that once he sees a vision it can't be changed no matter what he does. He has developed methods of coping, but when he sees the death of his younger brother, Isaiah, in a vision, he knows he must do something to try to break this curse of knowledge. As Alex gets to know his brother better in his last days, he learns that Isaiah also carries a curse: being able to relive the past of their ancestors. Passed down from father to son, over hundreds of years, this is their family's long-held secret. Alex and Isaiah must face who they are and what they fear most in order to break their curses. The story is rich with magical elements in the form of generational trauma that Black families carry with them, and the real danger of existing while being Black in America. The brothers face racism from their white neighbors despite "good intentions." The story is important, timely, and gives representation in a novel that is about both Black joy and pain. VERDICT Readers who are looking for books like Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give and Nic Stone's Dear Martin will gravitate towards this book. An important addition to every young adult collection. Erica Coonelly, Monroe Township M.S., NJ
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
For 16-year-old Alex, having a secret superpower is more of a curse than a blessing.Ever since his parents’ deaths, Alex can see into the future—seconds, days, and years beyond the present of anything he touches. Rather than giving Alex an advantage, this supernatural gift gives him endless anxiety. Alex and his 12-year-old brother, Isaiah, live with their Aunt Mackie in an affluent suburban Chicago neighborhood. They are all Black. Alex keeps his secret powers from everyone, including his devoted Spanish-speaking girlfriend, Talia, whose family struggles to make ends meet. Alex’s constant visions interfere with his job at an ice cream shop and his intimate relationship with Talia. But when Alex has a vision foretelling Isaiah’s impending death, his anxiety goes through the roof: The clock is ticking, and he must journey into his ancestral past and grapple with what it means to be a man. This portrait of Black boys as sensitive, vulnerable, and complex is refreshing, unfolding within a powerful and provocative narrative about brotherly love and the insidiousness of racism. Morris seamlessly and beautifully weaves together multiple plotlines (including frank talk about sex) with crisp and sometimes humorous dialogue that always rings true.A timely, poignant page-turner about grief, love, and facing your fears. (Fiction. 13-18)
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews (1/1/21)
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly (1/1/21)
School Library Journal Starred Review (3/1/21)
ALA Booklist (3/1/21)
Reading Level: 6.0
Interest Level: 7-12
Lexile: 780L

Dear Martin meets They Both Die at the End in this gripping, evocative novel about a Black teen who has the power to see into the future, whose life turns upside down when he foresees his younger brother’s imminent death, from the acclaimed author of SLAY.

Sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus is trying his best. He tries to be the best employee he can be at the local ice cream shop; the best boyfriend he can be to his amazing girlfriend, Talia; the best protector he can be over his little brother, Isaiah. But as much as Alex tries, he often comes up short.

It’s hard to for him to be present when every time he touches an object or person, Alex sees into its future. When he touches a scoop, he has a vision of him using it to scoop ice cream. When he touches his car, he sees it years from now, totaled and underwater. When he touches Talia, he sees them at the precipice of breaking up, and that terrifies him. Alex feels these visions are a curse, distracting him, making him anxious and unable to live an ordinary life.

And when Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother’s imminent death, everything changes.

With Alex now in a race against time, death, and circumstances, he and Isaiah must grapple with their past, their future, and what it means to be a young Black man in America in the present.

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