one of the good ones – maika moulite & maritza moulite | review

One of the Good Ones by Maika & Maritza Moulite

Published January 5th 2021 by Inkyard Press
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Rep: Black cast


Rating: 5 out of 5.



When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.

One of the good ones.

Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again.


trigger and content warnings:

when i started one of the good ones, i couldn’t put it down. i had expected the book to start from the day following kezi’s death but the authors made a decision to narrate using different timelines and point-of-view chapters. not only do readers get happi’s point-of-view, there are chapters from kezi a day before the social justice rally, a mysterious character named shaqueria, and even the family’s ancestors.

the discussion around the phrase “one of the good ones” was a poignant way of showing how detrimental a supposedly good-intended saying can be. in the authors’s note, they mentioned that “‘one of the good ones’ is usually code for a person our country deems worthy. That importance is usually tied to level of education, income, class, zip code, gender identity, sexual orientation. If most or all those acceptable boxes are checked, then we care.” the moulite sisters explicitly highlighted this throughout the book using the backgrounds of different characters to show which one society cared more about according to the categories mentioned before.

But now that we have the chance to at least speak up and let ourselves be heard, I’m never going to stop fighting for that. Because it’s not just for me. It’s for all of us.

to commemorate kezi’s life and legacy as a social justice activist, happi and genny embark on a road trip that their sister had already planned. readers are brought on a journey to visit historical locations that are important in Black history with the guidance of “The Negro Motorist Green Book” which “helped Black people travel safely throughout the US during Jim Crow”.

the sisterly relationship between genny, kezi and happi is rocky and filled with miscommunication. as the youngest, happi never felt like she could fit in with her oldest and middle sister who were closer in age. there was always a distance between her and them. during the road trip, happi reflects not the times she dismissed kezi’s concerns and rejected her approaches. her refusal to let kezi in caused happi many regrets, grief and guilt which were brilliantly expressed. at the same time, healing between the two living sisters felt raw and real.

But we are more than the good ones.
We are the bad ones.
We are the okay ones.
We are the amazing ones.
We are the nothing-to-write-home-about ones.
We are the beautiful ones.
We are just… ones.

for most of the reviews, the only flaw they found was the twist which they thought took away the main point that the whole book was driving towards. personally, while it seemed a little stretched, the plot twist didn’t bother me. in fact, i found the ending to be really satisfying.

one of the good ones is a moving and beautifully written story about a family’s grief of losing a beloved member, the history of the Black community through the intertwining timelines, and the thought-provoking focus on the phrase itself. maika moulite and maritza moulite cleverly discussed difficult topics about police brutality, racism and homophobia through the lenses of various characters. though tough to read, i’m floored with the captivating prose and interesting plot. couldn’t have enough of it.

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