Niveus Private Academy is an elite private school, where their students get the best start to life that money can buy. Chiamaka and Devon are the only two black kids at the school, but they couldn’t be more different, one who plays the game at being the most popular and succeeds, the other a quiet musician who just wants to keep his head down and get a scholarship. When an anonymous texter starts sending their secrets to everyone in school, they threaten to ruin everything.

Growing up, I realized quite quickly that people hate being called racist more than they hate racism itself.

Ace of Spades is an anxiety inducing thriller, exploring institutional racism and homophobia. It says a lot about how strong a debut this is that I kept on reading despite not really liking one of the main characters that much, and it’s not a comforting read in the slightest.

Chiamaka is at the top of the social hierarchy, doing whatever it takes to come out on top. Devon is a talented musician who doesn’t come from money, his mother sacrificing whatever she can to ensure her son climbs out of their poor neighbourhood. They decide to team up when it looks like they are the main targets of Aces.

It takes them quite a while to come to the conclusion that they are being targeted because of their race. I guess they have made the point that the school has never felt racist before, and there is one reveal that throws them off the scent, but I felt this was the big elephant in the room for quite a while.

Devon is gay and the guy he’s seeing is in the closet, and would very much not want his gang to know about it. This was quite a sad storyline as it was clear he had feelings for Devon, but he had his own internalised homophobia. With the texts revealing Devon’s private life to everyone, this causes him trouble back home.

I hate how they have the power to kill my future, kill me. They treat my Black skin like a gun or a grenade or a knife that is dangerous and lethal, when really it’s them. The guys at the top powering everything.

Chiamaka has a guilty secret too, one that could make all her academic success mean nothing if it gets out. There is a part of me that wants to think the reveal is unrealistic, but I can believe certain groups doing what they did. There are people out there who spend a lot of time on their hate… It certainly drives home a hard point, one that can be hard to confront as a white person.

20 Books of Summer #3

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