Hush by Jacqueline Woodson


Back when she lived in Denver, back when her name was Toswiah, back when her daddy had a job and her mom was always cooking chicken and biscuits, life was pretty good. But now that life is gone. Now her name is Evie, and she comes from San Francisco. She’s never been to San Francisco, but that doesn’t matter.  All because her dad stood up to some of the other cops in his precinct – white policemen who shot and killed a young black man.

Now Toswiah’s family is in the witness protection program, and they have to very suddenly leave their old life behind. This family that used to be so close slowly slips further and further apart. Every member of the family changes, sometimes in very palpable ways – the mother joins the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the father drops into a deep depression and attempts suicide.

This is a really engaging book – the Witness Protection Program is a topic that a lot of young people are very curious about. At a time when most teens are concerned with creating their own identity, the idea of  a whole family that needs to recreate their identity is compelling.  Toswiah struggles to retain her emerging sense of self while living her unwanted new identity.