Book Review: Let Me Hear a Rhyme

Teens D.C.

Book Review: Let Me Hear a Rhyme

Selam Weimer shares her thoughts on this mystery novel that's also an ode to the origins of hiphop

by Selam Weimer, Teen Council member at Tenley-Friendship Library

If you are a reader looking for a book that encompasses art, mystery, and friendship,
Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson might be the one for you. The story is set in Brooklyn and the unique perspectives of three teens:  Jasmine, Quadir, Jarrell, brought together by a common loss are beautifully captured. Each chapter is written in the voice of a different character as the author invites the reader to put all the pieces together to create one narrative. This usage of multiple narrators fosters empathy that is lost when it is only one character’s perspective being given. 

After losing their best friend and brother Steph to gun violence, these three teens are lost in deep grief. However, after finding a tape of Steph’s raps, they attempt to redeem his legacy by creating a new artist dubbed “Architect”.  “Architect” gives them a resurgence of life and purpose and triggers a journey of self-discovery. Jackson does not shy away from obvious racial tensions and struggles that determine each character’s story and fate. However, she takes something that would otherwise be too heavy and dark and allows art to manifest and capture the complexity and beauty of it.

This story is Infused with hip-hop and historical allusions making it simultaneously fun and educational. Jackson fuses lyricism and slang to make a new, beautiful, poetic language. Each teen has secrets that divide and isolate them which reflects the pressures of teen years specifically those that surface due to being black in America. Despite these conflicts the teens find their way back to each other and gain deep lessons about life along the way.

Let Me Hear a Rhyme is a puzzle of a story and I loved finding myself in the characters’ unique narrations especially Jasmine’s. This book captures the essence of what it means to be home and Tiffany D. Jackson beautifully seizes the vision of normalizing the voices and stories of black youth in literature.