Promise boys

Nick Brooks, 1989-

Book - 2023

J.B., Ramón, and Trey, students of the Urban Promise Prep School, must follow the school's strict rules, but when their principal is murdered, the three boys must band together to track down the real killer before they are arrested.

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Location Call Number   Status
Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Brooks Nick Checked In
Young adult fiction
Detective and mystery fiction
Thrillers (Fiction)
School fiction
New York : Henry Holt and Company 2023.
Main Author
Nick Brooks, 1989- (author)
First edition
Physical Description
294 pages ; 24 cm
Ages 14-18.
Grades 10-12.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Principal Kenneth Moore has been murdered, and the authorities quickly zero in on three students as suspects--Trey, the superstar shooting guard; Ramón, who dreams of owning a restaurant; and J.B., a quiet kid trying to fit in. Each boy has found his way to Promise Prep through hardship; Principal Moore's "tough love" was supposed to be a ticket to future success, even though his authoritarian approach was more vindictive than supportive. As the boys investigate the crime they're accused of, they begin to uncover shadowy secrets kept by both students and adults at the school. Told through several POVs, but predominantly those of the three boys, this story stands out as an excellent exploration of city life. Many chapters are one-offs that feature insights from community members--teachers, students, parents, neighbors--thus weaving a complex world for the story. Brooks allows characters to be honest, showing their rough edges and not glossing over views that are shortsighted or even offensive. Consequently, the story gains a rare verisimilitude that refuses to demean its readers via simple moralization. But make no mistake, this story is also a top-notch page-turner and deep character study. The three protagonists and slow convergence of their investigations will grip readers, who won't want to stop reading until the culprit is revealed.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

When the principal of venerated Washington, D.C., all-boys charter school Urban Promise Prep is found shot dead under mysterious circumstances, suspicion immediately falls on three students with less than stellar reputations: quiet but temperamental J.B., mischievous but good-natured Ramón, and perpetual troublemaker Trey, all of whom were in detention on campus when the killing took place. Though the trio claim innocence, evidence piles up: Ramón's hairbrush is found at the scene, J.B. is inexplicably covered in the principal's blood, and Trey publicly threatened the principal before his death. Additionally, Trey's uncle's gun is missing, and authorities assume that Trey stole it. The boys must work together to uncover the truth--behind the murder and Urban Promise Prep's history--before they lose their promising futures. Dividing the narrative into several parts told from multiple POVs in nonlinear chronology, Brooks (Nothing Interesting Ever Happens to Ethan Fairmont) shines a light on racial inequality in the criminal justice system and interrogates the degree to which educational institutions play a role in upholding it, particularly regarding young men of color. Brooks excels in creating protagonists worthy of applause and truly foul villains, whose presences linger long after this atmospheric read ends. Ages 14--up. (Jan.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Urban Promise Prep School, an all-boys school in Washington, DC, aims to combat the challenges of urban education with structure and discipline. The so-called "Moore method," named after Principal Kenneth Moore, does not allow phones, talking, or even laughing during the school day. While outsiders may see Promise's graduation rates and think it a success, those on the inside see the cracks forming long before the novel's inciting incident--the murder of Principal Moore, who is shot after school during a basketball game. Three boys, J.B., Trey, and Ramón, who were unsupervised in detention at the time of the murder, become the prime suspects. Though each boy has his own potential motive, each claims innocence and must fight to prove it before they become victims of a system that often unfairly punishes young men of color. Brooks builds suspense in the novel through changing time lines and narrators, along with short chapters that leave readers wanting more. Despite of the quick pace, the character development is solid; readers get to know each of the three boys, as well as a compelling cast of secondary characters, well. VERDICT With social justice themes, relatable teenage protagonists, and a satisfying conclusion, this is an essential purchase for teen collections.--Mary Kamela

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Principal Kenneth Moore is dead, shot in his office during a basketball game. The influential Black founder of the all-male Urban Promise Prep School and a pillar of the community, he sought to give the boys at his school a shot at college -- at the cost of a draconian code of conduct. Three students of color -- a talented basketball player, a bright college hopeful, and a budding culinary star and entrepreneur -- are instant suspects in the crime, each with a motive for their principal's demise. Thrown together by their in-common circumstances, these three young men must become quick allies as they race to investigate the case and attempt to clear themselves of any wrongdoing. Will justice be served or will they fall victim to a flawed system? A riveting murder mystery wrapped in social commentary, the novel offers a fresh, contemporary take on an old-fashioned whodunit. It also shines a light on the plight of Black and Latino youth, who are often the targets of an inequitable and unequal justice system. Told from multiple perspectives with interspersed ephemera and extended flashbacks, the story builds to an exhilarating crescendo. Monique HarrisJanuary/February 2023 p.77 (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

When someone murders the renowned founder of an oppressively rigorous Washington, D.C., school, three students--all boys of color--emerge as prime suspects. The police haul in a trio of Urban Promise Prep students, two Black and one Salvadoran, for questioning following the murder of Principal Kenneth Moore. For J.B. Williamson, Urban Promise's strict rules and regulations are suffocating, but his luck seems to turn when he finally makes a tentative move forward with his crush. Jokester Trey Jackson, meanwhile, does his best to ensure his place in the big basketball game, and no one--not even his tough-as-nails Uncle T--can stop him. Ramón Zambrano dreams of one day owning a restaurant. In the meantime, he gets by hustling pupusas at school and refusing to succumb to pressure from his beloved cousin César, the feared leader of the Dioses del Humo gang. At Urban Promise, one false move can cost a college-bound future. Unfortunately, all three boys engaged in public spats with Principal Moore before his death; to clear their names, they must investigate and uncover the killer's identity. In a masterful use of multiple points of view from both the main protagonists and secondary characters, Brooks weaves a tale of intrigue, doubt, and hearsay with ease, doling out crucial tidbits and clues. Each gradual reveal prods readers to reconsider and reassess. Featuring a sharp examination of systemic inequality in urban schools and Black and Latine boyhood, this novel delivers in spades. Breathtakingly complex and intriguing. (Mystery. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.