Title: The Cost of Knowing
Author: Brittney Morris
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Dear Martin meets They Both Die at the End in this gripping, evocative novel about a Black teen who has the power to see into the future, whose life turns upside down when he foresees his younger brother’s imminent death, from the acclaimed author of SLAY.
Sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus is trying his best. He tries to be the best employee he can be at the local ice cream shop; the best boyfriend he can be to his amazing girlfriend, Talia; the best protector he can be over his little brother, Isaiah. But as much as Alex tries, he often comes up short.
It’s hard to for him to be present when every time he touches an object or person, Alex sees into its future. 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.
Sixteen-year-old Alex and his younger brother Isaiah live in a gated community outside of Chicago with their aunt. Since their parents died in a car accident, Alex has had the ability to see the future of any item he touches. He calls this his curse because he can’t touch anything without seeing the future. This includes when he touches his car and sees it sinking underwater, and his girlfriend who he sees breaking up with him when he touches her. These visions make it difficult for Alex to live his life, so he avoids touching things. Even though he has attempted to change these visions, they always come true. One day when he picks up a photo of his family, he sees that his brother is going to die soon. Alex doesn’t have much time to try and save his brother in the few days he has left.
Alex’s power of seeing the future sounds like it could be an interesting power to have, but I could feel his helplessness in this story. He tried to make the visions not happen, but they always came true. Despite him seeing that his brother was going to die, I kept hoping that the vision wouldn’t come true. This feeling reminded me of how I felt reading They Both Die at the End. In that book, despite the title, I kept hoping for a different ending. I had that same feeling while reading this book.
Alex and Isaiah were both Black boys living in a predominantly white neighbourhood. I won’t give away any spoilers, but they had to face racial injustice multiple times in this story. It’s so disturbing to keep reading stories like this and see them reflected on the news. I found this one especially hard to read because it was such an emotional story. Even if you know what’s coming, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I really hope these racial injustice stories will one day no longer be relatable, but for now, it’s so important they are told to give people a glimpse of what it’s like to be Black in this world.
This was such a powerful story. I think everyone should read it!
Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Have you read The Cost of Knowing? What did you think of it?