When You Look Like Us is a compelling debut novel about a teenage boy from Newport News. Jayson is living with his grandmother and trying to make money selling essays because he feels bad about putting her out. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about Jayson’s character then I don’t know what else you want.
I really liked Jay, but I can see how he could get on some readers’ nerves with the stuff he comes out with. In typical teenage fashion, he’s quick to react and sometimes he treats his friends poorly. But other times, he’s a loving grandson, a caring brother, and a lovely friend.
Jay’s relationship with his grandmother was the most memorable part of the book for me, as it was just so lovely and adorable. I would have liked to have seen more of Jay with Nic before she vanished, as it would have really strengthened the plot of trying to find her.
I also really enjoyed that this is set in Newport News, which is somewhere in the US that I have actually been!
When You Look Like Us is a solid debut that touches upon a lot, such as poverty cycles and microagressions just to name a couple. I’d highly recommend it to teenage readers who want to read about a strong sibling relationship, and the lengths a brother will go to find his sister when no one else seems to care.
About the Author
Pamela N. Harris was born and somewhat raised in Newport News, Virginia—also affectionately known as “Bad News.” A former school counselor by day, she received her BA in English and her master’s in school counseling at Old Dominion University, her MFA in creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a PhD in counselor education and supervision at The College of William & Mary. When she isn’t writing, Pam is rewatching Leonardo DiCaprio movies, chasing after her two kiddos, and pretending to enjoy exercising. When You Look Like Us is her debut novel. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. – HarperCollins
Interested in more 2021 Debuts? Check out my Debut Showcase feature, in which I talk about a tonne of authors with debut books coming out in 2021. While you’re here, perhaps consider taking part in the Debut Author Challenge? There are giveaways, readathons, read-ins, and more!