Title: The Cost of Knowing
Author: Brittney Morris
Alex Rufus is sixteen. He lives with his Aunt Mackie and his younger brother Isaac in an upmarket neighbourhood in Chicago – the only black family on their street. After the accident that killed his parents, Alex woke up in hospital and discovered that everything he touched gave him a vision of something that would happen to that object in the future. He can’t tell anyone – they’d assume he was lying or traumatised – so he lives with the visions every day.
It’s a great idea for a story. Alex narrates his life, constantly explaining the visions he sees. While some visions are important – an unidentified man buying the ice cream shop where he works – others are a constant source of annoyance: visions of typing in the lock code when he picks up his phone, or paying for something when he takes his card from his wallet. When he sees a vision of his younger brother’s death, he starts looking for ways to protect Isaac, and ways to spend time with him in case he can’t stop the vision from coming true.
I loved this idea, and the way the book explored the impact on Alex’s life. While seeing visions of the future sounds like a superpower, Alex comes to regard it as a curse. He has never found a way to escape the visions – whatever he does, they always come true. He is sure that Isaac is going to die, and he has a good idea when it will happen, but he feels powerless to prevent it.
Alongside this engaging story, the author gives us a wonderful cast of characters. Alex feels real and relatable, in spite of his visions. It takes a while to get to know Isaac, but the relationship between the brothers deepens as they start to spend time together. Aunt Mackie is fantastic – a real-estate agent with a million-dollar house and a seat on the neighbourhood housing association. She’s a no-nonsense guardian to the brothers, but she has a sense of humour, and it is clear that she loves the boys in her care. Talia is Alex’s girlfriend, and their relationship is strong and supportive, even though he can’t tell her about his visions. I loved getting to know the characters, and following Alex as he gets to know his brother.
I won’t spoil the story, but there are some scenes towards the end of the book as Alex spends time with Isaac that are filled with joy and excitement. I could feel the delight – Isaac in his experiences, and Alex as he watched his brother. It was an uplifting and heartwarming moment in their relationship, and as a reader I felt as if I was standing with them. I really enjoyed these scenes, and they provide a counterpoint to the underlying theme of the book – the constant obstacles faced by Alex and Isaac as young black men in the US today.
The Cost of Knowing is an interesting take on brotherhood, the issues around the Black Lives Matter movement, black history and heritage, and the cost of working through traumatic experiences. The author takes a unique approach to all these aspects of the book, and uses them to shape an original and engaging story.
The Cost of Knowing will be published on March 11th. Thank you to NetGalley for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read The Cost of Knowing? What did you think of the book? Who was your favourite character? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!
Review cross-posted to GoodReads.
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