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Out of Darkness

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  3,187 ratings  ·  740 reviews
“This is East Texas, and there’s lines. Lines you cross, lines you don’t cross. That clear?”

New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Vargas and Wash Fuller know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them.

“No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs.”

They know the people who enforce them.

“They all decided they’d ride out in their sheets and pay Blue a visit
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Carolrhoda Lab
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Clara Also vulgar and crass language.
Also vulgar and crass language.
Clara Young adult, at least seventeen.

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  3,187 ratings  ·  740 reviews

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This is a powerful, painful story not about the school explosion, though that plays a part, but rather, about the lives of marginalized individuals in history. Set in east Texas in the 1930s, this story told in alternating POVs explores a Mexican girl coming to terms with her family's heritage; a white man's interest in ownership and power; a black man's interest in being and doing good; romance; and so much more. It is not an easy read in the least, but Perez does an outstanding job o
Sarah Hannah
I am known for being soulless and hard, but this book has broken me in about a hundred ways. Brilliant. Heartwrenching. Brave. Intricate. I will say more coherent things in the morning maybe, but DAMN.

Okay, here's the rest of my review:
I don't even know how to rate this book. Like, it's an important book. And I liked the characters. But it's also possibly the bleakest book I've ever read and I hated so much of what happens in the story because it filled me with so much rage.

Full review to come. Hopefully a rating will come with it.

Okay, so. I'm going with a 2.5 star rating at this stage. Because even though I think the story is incredibly important and wonderfully diverse - I mean, it's set in the Texas oil field
I don’t get book hangovers very often but when I finished reading OUT OF DARKNESS I swore, I took the names of various deities in vain, and I stared off into space for a few minutes. I was physically exhausted by the time I read the last line. This book will just tear you apart from the inside out and spit you out on the back end.

OUT OF DARKNESS is a dark book that deals with some really rough things like blatant and violent racism and statutory rape. At times it’s a difficult book to read but i
Sarah Laurence
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you haven't read a book by Ashley Hope Pérez, you are missing a unique and empowering voice in young adult fiction. The author's work for Teach for America Corps inspired her debut novel, What Can't Wait. Her gritty sophomore novel, The Knife and The Butterfly, explored the consequences of gang violence.

Pérez's third novel, Out of Darkness features a clandestine romance which dares to cross the racial divide of 1930's Texas. Inspired by the most deadly school disaster in American history, thi
You know what this book is about from the first page. The worst school tragedy in American history (I almost looked it up to see if it still was, but then I didn't want to know): a gas explosion in a Texas oilfield school that killed most of the students and teachers. It's also about racism, about family, about death and loss, abuse, and violence.

And that's why I'm not really sure about how I feel about this book. It starts with the explosion and the community working to clear away the debris,
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was ok

So this is being described as a novel about a major disaster--an explosion at a school in Texas in 1937--as a backdrop for a story about love, family, segregation, racism, etc. Which is accurate. But is also a novel about a young girl being molested by her stepfather. This is why trigger warnings are a thing! I don't want to read books about young girls being molested, I find it upsetting (I think understandably). I am especially tired of picking up YA boo
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Beautifully told story, wonderful editing. But so, so bleak. Why on earth would anyone need to endure such a horrific tragedy in their leisure reading? I needed more hope. More joy.
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing

YA is becoming diverse (THANK THE LAWD) in representing a variety of issues people of color have experienced. Furthermore, I was SO EXCITED to see an interracial romance that wasn’t black and white. PUN! Would that be considered a pun? Moving on!!!! Heartbreaking, beautiful, and superbly executed read about race, politics, and love that is very much relevant today.

Let’s talk about my the tragical element. The two main characters mixed in with Naomi’s crazy stepfather and his lemme-get-advice-f
Feb 09, 2016 rated it did not like it
Honestly this book bored me to tears, the chapters were very short and not concise. There are some books that start off very intriguing but a little bit too intriguing, if that makes sense? I feel that the author tried to sound spooky with the language but it frustrated the hell out of me. The synopsis did not even make sense, it was just a bunch of mini plots that was not consistent with the first plot. Who were the characters that suppose to make a difference? When is the story about to pick u ...more
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book took my breath away. I'm not sure how "young" the "young adult" title goes, but I would be nervous to share this text with my 14-year-old sister (because of my ridiculous desire to shield her from some of the world's hard and ugly truths). So intense; a beautiful love story between Naomi and Wash, a story of the power and resilience of sibling love among Naomi and Cari and Beto, a story of the anger and hate and hopelessness that inspires rape, racism, and death. And ultimately, a stor ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I usually love super bleak books, and this was beautifully written, but in this dawning age of our nation's history with our new president-elect and his followers I wonder if it's too close to what will become real (again).
Wow. That was intense. Here's my review:

Out of Darkness is a tough book to read due to dark themes, but readers should not be dissuaded. This book puts a spotlight on racism in the south. East Texas during the 1930’s was a highly racist time period for anyone who was not white. This book dives into racism that is not addressed often in young adult fiction. This book demonstrates the injustice of racism at that time period with an emphasis on Mexican Ameri
Cindy Rodriguez
As soon as I finished Ashley's novel, I wanted to reread it as a writer. I want to pull it apart and study it because it's that good. One of the things I appreciate most was the slow burn of the narrative. The novel opens with the explosion, and then flashes back to show how the characters' live intersect before the event. The fuse lit in that opening scene coils through the narrative, gaining in intensity as the story leads back to the explosion and then its aftermath. The tension in Naomi's ho ...more
This beautifully written, heart-wrenching book doesn't pull any punches. Although this is historical fiction, with its powerful exploration of racism it still feels very relevant today. I'm so glad this won a Printz honor because it jumped to the top of my reading list. Well done, Printz committee!
Kimberli Heck
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This everything. The story, the characters...the DEPTH. It has been a LONG time since I have read anything this captivating where I have sat for hours to just be with the characters.
This book will break your heart into a million little pieces and leave you thinking about the characters for days to come. It is warm and wonderful, gritty and hurtful.

Naomi is of Mexican heritage. Wash is black. The year is 1937, and what these two young people are feeling is strictly forbidden. Naomi, her twin half brother and sister, and her stepfather (the father of the twins) live in an oil drilling community in east Texas. Naomi’s mother ( of Mexican heritage) died after the birth of the
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Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-star
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Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely stunning novel. Loosely based on a school explosion in New London, Texas in 1937 which took the lives of 300 children. Love, family, friendship, and hope for a better future come up against the ugliness of racism, hatred, misogynistic treatment of women, and a cruel mentality of mob rule. It's not an easy book to read, and I'm surprised that it has been marketed as YA rather than adult fiction. There are many tough, gut- punching scenes, keeping the reader squirming but still compe ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
i'm not a huge fan of historical fiction to begin with, so picking this up was different for me, but i am very glad i did. set in a period of extreme racism, jim crow laws, and overall hatred against people of color, i found this book to be equal parts beautiful and equal parts difficult to digest. given the context, there were certain words, phrases, and general POVs that, as a person of color specifically mexican like naomi, were hard to take in. but as a historical fiction, it makes sense why ...more
Christen Bennett
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it
If you like living with the feeling of impending doom and waiting for the other shoe to drop, then you're going to love this book.

This is a work of historical fiction, although very loosely based on the 1937 New London School explosion in Texas. Although none of the characters are real, much of Perez's depiction of life in Texas and the South in the 1930s rings true.

Be forewarned that there is no hope in this novel. And I get that if the author wanted to maintain realism, there was no hope to of
Sarah Krajewski
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wash Fuller is a heartthrob when it comes to the girls in East Texas. He is smart, kind, and always knows exactly what to say. He charms Naomi Vargas's twin siblings, and pretty soon Naomi as well. Naomi sees so much good in Wash, and finds him a wonderful distraction from her drunk step-father, Henry. But Naomi is Mexican and Wash is Black, and it's 1937, so they know they cannot be together. They hide their relationship from everyone, or at least they think they do. There are eyes everywhere t ...more
Pages For Thoughts
The author took an awful event and made it even sadder by bringing attention to the controversy and racism surrounding it. Tragedies like the ones that happened in this book we all know that in some form, they did happen in that time period. And we as a species still deal with racism and prejudice today. Out of the Darkness is a strong wake-up call to the darkness inside humanity and makes us reflect on who we are and the choices we make every day. The story was a beautiful, romantic tragedy. Th ...more
An interracial romance. Texas. 1930s.

That's all you need to know that this book is not going to have a happy ending. Loosely based around the 1937 explosion of a white school in East Texas, the events here are mainly fictional but clearly focus on blatant, violent racism, rape, and child molestation (to a lesser extent).

You can predict where the story is going at times but I think it paints an fairly accurate picture of this country's dark history.
Nicole Perry
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a devastating story! I listened to this one, and found that there were times when I had to turn it off and drive in silence for a little while to settle myself. The characters are very powerful. I have to say that I felt more fear and experienced more plot twists in this book than I did in the last book I read, which is marketed as a "psychological thriller."

*Beware: there are graphic scenes and strong language. It is all true to the context, but disturbing nonetheless .
Jul 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
YA Disaster Novel

The story is about a school that blew up because of a gas leak in March 1937. There are diverse characters that make up the novel and circumstances that lead up to the explosion and then a short description of the aftermath. I was never very engaged in the book. The characters only seem to exist as build up to the explosion and there’s the explosion and a short aftermath. It might have been better to balance out before, during and after. I just didn’t see much point in the chara
Paul Ataua
Dec 25, 2017 rated it liked it
It is a great story, but the characters seem to have been cut out of the flimsiest cardboard and that makes it really hard to get behind them. Wash is a wholesome, kind-hearted ‘black boy’ and Naomi, a sweet romantic Mexican teenager, and as I read I could only see them as stereotypes. The third person narrative also helped to keep emotional involvement at arm’s length. Whatever power the story held, and it certainly wasn’t a simple shallow romance, was lost by the lack of real character develop ...more
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely gut-wrenching & impossible to put down ...more
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was ok

So this book was picked for my book club for the month of November way back when and little did we know how close to reality this actually was after Trump’s election. (Yes, I am a Hilary fan but to be fair, I didn’t particularly like either candidates but I really cannot support someone who is outright racist, has no regard whatsoever to women, and is basically a lunatic but this is all I will ever say about the election.)

A lot of my book clubish fr
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The messed up things in this book *Spoilers* 1 2 Jul 11, 2020 10:04AM  
YA Book Cafe : Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez 1 5 Jan 18, 2018 01:47PM  
FYA Book Club of ...: November 2016 - Out of Darkness 2 4 Mar 12, 2017 11:36AM  

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When I’m not reading, writing, or teaching, I hang out with my husband Arnulfo and our two boys, Liam Miguel and Ethan Andrés. In the scraps of time that remain, I also like to run (I did the Houston Marathon in 2007 and the Chicago Marathon in 2009), bake (but let’s don’t revive the “Cookie Girl” nickname, please), watch movies, work in my garden, and destroy my mom in long-distance games of Scra ...more

Articles featuring this book

The author of 'Salt to the Sea' discusses the historical events that inspired her new YA novel.
17 likes · 4 comments
“that he’d gone all the way with her out back of the cafeteria. We didn’t believe him, but we liked” 0 likes
“There are so many funerals that the pews in churches have no time to cool.” 0 likes
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