Book review: Out of Darkness

“Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez is about the journey of two young lovers as they try to navigate the racist society in which they reside. The story opens on one of the deadliest school explosions in the US and then continues on to look back at how Naomi Vargas, a Mexican American girl, and Wash Fuller, an African American boy, develop their romantic relationship. 

Naomi is responsible for her two younger siblings, due to the fact that her stepfather is absent from the household and their mother is deceased. Wash has lived in the same town his whole life, and makes an effort to help Naomi and her siblings adjust to their new life in the oil town of New England, Texas, while going through his own struggles of working to keep his family afloat. Throughout the book, Perez tells the story through the perspective of different characters, including “The Gang” which consists of the racist bullies at the high school they attend. 

Perez does a good job of representing the struggles that people of color in Texas had to go through. The explosion of the high school serves as a metaphor to show how the problems of discrimination based off of race and gender still exist today. The angry mob in the town that believes that Wash is responsible for the explosion because he is Black, represents a nonexistent resolution to discrimination. As more and more devastating experiences are collected by the two lovers, they learn to cling onto their dreams, hoping to one day make it out of the town and build their own life. 

“Out of Darkness” is sadly a banned book. It explicitly explains, by showing the characters’ first hand experiences, the struggles of being a person of color, woman, impoverished, and belonging to other minority groups. Exposing students to these struggles that may be overlooked in required classes in schools is key to being able to stop ignorance about different minority groups and the struggles of oppressed people in US history. Banning books that cover sensitive but crucial topics like oppression of different groups will halt the progress in educating students on their history, creating more division among privileged and underprivileged groups; it will not protect students from speculated brainwash or topics claimed to be too sensitive for them.