Alex Rufus is cursed. Everything he touches gives him a glimpse of the future, but he never knows when what he envisions will manifest. He knows, for example, that the ice cream shop he works at is going to be sold and that his girlfriend is going to break up with him—he just doesn’t know when. Worst of all, Alex knows that his little brother, Isaiah, is going to die, but without knowing when, he can’t try to prevent it from happening.
When Alex makes a critical discovery about the source of his visions, he attempts to find a cure to get rid of them so that he and his brother can fully enjoy what little time Isaiah may have left. But their lives as two Black boys in a wealthy gated community are complicated, and Alex may not be able to protect his brother from every danger.
In The Cost of Knowing, author Brittney Morris (Slay) gives Black boys power in a world that considers them powerless. Though Alex treats his abilities like a burden, they eventually enable both him and Isaiah to reclaim their lives, face their greatest fears and live out their dreams. Indeed, Alex spends much of the book motivated by what he fears, but this is a rational reaction not just to the vision he’s trying to stop from coming to fruition but also to his daily experiences as a Black teen in his mostly white Chicago suburb, where he regularly endures microaggressions from his neighbors. Throughout the novel, Morris frames Alex’s fears as possible for him to overcome, a choice that speaks to the hopes of every Black boy in America—to live without fear and to be seen by everyone as worthy of dignity and respect.
Emotional and gripping, The Cost of Knowing uses fantastical elements to convey how life-threateningly real the problems that Black boys face in America are—so real, in fact, that even having superpowers isn’t always enough to overcome them.