When he touches a scoop, he has a vision of him using it to scoop ice cream. When he touches his car, he sees it years from now, totaled and underwater. When he touches Talia, he sees them at the precipice of breaking up, and that terrifies him. Alex feels these visions are a curse, distracting him, making him anxious and unable to live an ordinary life.
And when Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother’s imminent death, everything changes.
With Alex now in a race against time, death, and circumstances, he and Isaiah must grapple with their past, their future, and what it means to be a young Black man in America in the present.
Synopsis from Goodreads
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and NetGalley for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
It’s been a while since I’ve finished a book and it stayed in my mind the rest of the night because I couldn’t get over how it made me feel. This book did that to me. Morris has created a beautiful story about brotherhood, heritage and being Black in America. Like They Both Die in the End, we know that Alex has seen his brother die and that we are reading to find out if this comes true or if Alex can stop it from happening. But knowing what might happen doesn’t stop us from falling in love with these characters. This is a book I’m shocked isn’t being talked about more but definitely needs to be.
Alex and Isaiah are brothers who have barely spoken to each other since their parents die. When Alex sees his brother dying, he decides to make the most of their last few days together. He wants to make them count. Watching these brothers find their way back together and piece together their family history is beautiful. Alex realizes how lucky he is to have Isaiah, but also how lucky he is to be the descendent of so many amazing Black men. Their relationship is strained (to say the least) at the beginning of the novel, but by the end we see how their history and their love reunites them.
When Skin Colour Defines You to Others
The majority of this book deals with the micro aggressions young Black men face on a daily basis, culminating into a massive act of aggression that faces too many Black people. Morris dedicated her book to “all the Black boys who had to grow up to early” and we see again and again in this story how Alex and Isiah have to change their voice, how they speak, how they walk, and all these pieces of themselves when they walk out the door of their home. And it’s awful. I was in tears throughout the end of the story, especially when Alex confronts others about being racist and they try to brush off what happened as an “accident”. It’s heartbreaking and it’s happening in real life every day. Morris beautifully crafted this book to show how racism is seen in the little actions and the big ones and is always, always wrong.
This book takes place over a very short amount of time and we are thrust into Alex’s life and the difficult “gift” he’s been given. But this small window of his life contains huge moments for him, including the eventual death of his brother. We wait the entire book with our breath held, not sure when it will happen, but falling more in love with these boys while we wait, knowing it’s just going to hurt even more. It’s the relationships in Alex’s life that are so important - with his brother, his girlfriend, and his aunt. We see how he comes to realize that everything he believes is his burden alone is actually shared by others, whether it’s his curse of being able to see the future or what it means to be Black.
The Cost of Knowing is heartbreaking and needs to be read by everyone. While I wish that Alex hadn’t needed this final day to bridge his relationship with his brother (how different would both their lives be if they’d only started talking years earlier?) this is ultimately a beautiful story about brothers and finding their way back to each other. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA contemporary fiction.
FINAL RATING: 5/5
Hi, I'm Alexandra! I love reading (largely YA fiction, but sometimes I'll read "adult" books), playing board games, Nutella, and binge-watching TV shows on Netflix with my husband.
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