Everyone's Thinking It
“A smart, sharp YA, Everyone’s Thinking It deserves a place on teen and adult reading lists . . .”
In this distinctive boarding school mystery, two estranged cousins, Kitan and Iyanu, try to fit in and keep up with lavish lifestyles of their peers. They’re making it—barely—when Iyanu’s photos are stolen from a school dark room and released into the school at large, each with a secret about the person showcased on them. Iyanu and Kitan must find their way back to each other and sort friends from foes as more secrets come forward, exposing the inner worlds and crushing biases across Wodebury Hall.
While very similar to the Mean Girls movie in tone, the classic mystery tropes buried in this book give a fresh take on high school drama. At the forefront of Everyone’s Thinking It sidelined in similar books in favor of greater high-school politics.
Although the ins and outs of elite boarding school may not resonate widely with YA audiences, the themes presented will. Kitan has moved up the social ranks, leaving Iyanu behind. A popular white girl leverages her ‘mixed’ ancestry to gain social media influence. Students are pairing up and exploring dating, but the darker skinned girls seem always left behind.
‘I should have sensed this all coming after Year Eleven when Heather had gotten her results from a DNA test. Because even though it showed that she was completely Western European with a ‘trace amount of undetermined ancestry,’ like most white people on Earth, she’d gone on and on about how she had no idea she was ‘mixed.’’’
“I just can’t help but wish that Kitan didn’t hang out with them—Heather, Sarah, and the rest of the ‘popular kids.’ But I suppose with Kitan, old habits die hard. And there’s no way she’d hang out with me either way. Not anymore."
“As the only two highly melanated Black girls in our year at a primarily white boarding school in the countryside of southeast England, it seemed that no one was going to be looking our way."
Tackling the intersectionality of gender, race, and colorism, Iyanu and Kitan’s efforts to find the person responsible for the photo heist takes the reader through a host of teenage missteps. The author showcases the age group well and never shies away from relating youthful indiscretions to larger societal problems.
Even readers unable to parse the various microaggressions will be able to readily latch on to Heather and her brownface:
‘”Yeah, they said they wanted different marginal communities. And I’m a woman so obviously I contacted them. I deal with misogyny on my page every day.
“Sarah and I share a look.
“Does the brand know she’s white? Because ‘marginalized communities’ is pretty broad, they could be including white women talking about their experiences of misogyny. But Heather doesn’t look very white right now. Do they think they’ve added a woman of color to their campaign to talk about intersectional experiences? Would they care either way? If they knew about Heather, would they have hired an actual Black woman instead?”
There’s also just a healthy dose of teenage angst. Written in first person with dual points of view, the reader is privy to the entire emotional roller coaster of adolescence:
“Why does everything have to feel so much now? Why can’t I just sift through the bad stuff anymore?”
A smart, sharp YA, Everyone’s Thinking It deserves a place on teen and adult reading lists in 2024 for not just a taste of the high school experience, but as a window into the complexities of intersectional marginalized identities in that high school experience. The twists of the mystery elements alone are worth the price of admission.