I’m really excited to get back into the swing of reviewing books. It’s been a while since my last book review. Here it is, my first read and review of the decade.
In this standalone novel, Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of three Brooklyn teens who plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he is still alive.
Biggie Smalls was right. Things done changed. But that doesn’t mean that Quadir and Jarrell are okay letting their best friend Steph’s tracks lie forgotten in his bedroom after he’s killed—not when his beats could turn any Bed-Stuy corner into a celebration, not after years of having each other’s backs.
Enlisting the help of Steph’s younger sister, Jasmine, Quadir and Jarrell come up with a plan to promote Steph’s music under a new rap name: The Architect. Soon, everyone in Brooklyn is dancing to Steph’s voice. But then his mixtape catches the attention of a hotheaded music rep and—with just hours on the clock—the trio must race to prove Steph’s talent from beyond the grave.
Now, as the pressure—and danger—of keeping their secret grows, Quadir, Jarrell, and Jasmine are forced to confront the truth about what happened to Steph. Only each has something to hide. And with everything riding on Steph’s fame, together they need to decide what they stand for before they lose everything they’ve worked so hard to hold on to—including each other.
This was such a cool story. It’s very different from anything I’ve ever read before. The synopsis caught my eye but the story held me tight.
Can we take a minute to talk about this cover?
Y’all see it right? Good, just making sure.
I love the nuance of the characters. Tiffany D. Jackson is great at making even her side characters multi-dimensional. People you hate and want to keep hating at the beginning of the story may just end up being your favorite people by the end of it, and vice versa.
Jasmine, Quadir, and Jarrell were each such interesting people in their own right, and they were 10x better together. I love the way we as the reader are learning things alongside them. The alternating POVs were done extremely well, there wasn’t a point where I was confused about who was speaking or anxious to get to the next person.
With three (four when you count Steph) main characters, it’s common for me to have one that I just can’t stand. That wasn’t the case here. I really do love and appreciate our main characters, and a couple of our minor ones, too.
The underlying messages were definitely felt. I had a good time reading this and towards the end, I couldn’t put it down.
The not as Good
If you’ve read something by Tiffany D. Jackson before, don’t go into this thinking it’ll be the same. There are definitely some twists and turns, but this story is very different from her previous writing. She even makes a note of that in her author’s note.
That being said, I didn’t get the same feeling I had when reading Monday’s Not Coming. Part of that may be because I started this book months ago, read the first 70 pages, picked it up a month later to read 52 more pages, then didn’t start reading it consistently again until the very end of December. If you haven’t heard by now, the fall semester was tough for me.
All in All
I actually fell in love with this story the first time I started it, but I let school and work overwhelm me, hence the extended break. I’m happy I got a chance to really read it over the break and enjoy Jasmine, Quadir, and Jarell’s shared story.
Let me Hear a Rhyme was great read for the new year. I’m so happy to have this added to my collection and as always, I love supporting a black author.