I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal is Young Adult fiction with its finger keenly on the pulse of current affairs. Told through dual narrative, Jones and Segal collaborate to tell the story of one turbulent night shared and survived by Lena and Campbell.
Forced together as a fight breaks out at their high school and gunshots are fired, Lena and Campbell must set aside their societal differences and unite in the face of civil disturbance, protests, rioting and looting. Through Lena, Campbell begins to understand the deep racial tensions within the town she has recently moved to. She witnesses Lena’s fear in the presence of the police and watches a community stand for equality and justice in response to a racist governor.
Whilst Lena teaches Campbell to acknowledge the white privilege she possesses, she learns that the new white girl in town with very few friends may be blinkered but is loyal, compassionate and prepared to fiercely protect Lena too.
Both young girls experience first hand the brutality and violence which besets peaceful protest the moment counter protesters arrive; fights and fires are unleashed and the looting begins. Both are cowed by the sight of riot police, ziptied wrists and peaceful protesters sat in silence whilst stores are ransacked. Both young girls witness the lack of justice we too have experienced this year across the globe and most especially in the United States of America.
However, I’m Not Dying With You Tonight is more than a dual narrative exploring race, privilege and prejudice. Jones and Segal interweave teenage politics, the importance of family, high-school drama, love and friendship into their narrative too. Therefore creating a YA novel which resonates deeply yet also forces every reader to question their own stance, their own privileges and prejudices and what their own actions would be if ever faced with the same scenes and dilemmas Lena and Campbell are confronted by over the course of an evening.