Out of Darkness

  • Interest Level: Grade 8 - Grade 12   ·  
  • Reading Level: Grade 7

A 2016 Michael L. Printz Honoree

“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. They know the people who enforce them. But sometimes the attraction between two people is so powerful it breaks through even the most entrenched color lines. And the consequences can be explosive.

Ashley Hope Pérez takes the facts of the 1937 New London school explosion—the worst school disaster in American history—as a backdrop for a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people.

Format Your Price
Interest Level Grade 8 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 7
Genre Fiction, Young Adult
Category Diversity
Copyright 2015
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Lab ®
Language English
Number of Pages 408
Publication Date 2015-09-01
Reading Counts! Level 4.8
Text Type Fiction—Historical
BISACS YAF052000, YAF024170, YAF058190
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 6 x 9
Lexile 660
ATOS Reading Level 4.6
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 178200
Accelerated Reader® Points 15.0
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews


  • Virginia Readers' Choice Award Reading List Selection, Long-listed, 2017
  • Lincoln Award: Illinois Teen Readers' Choice Master List, Long-listed, 2017
  • Garden State Teen Book Award Nominee, Nominated, 2017
  • Booklist’s 50 Best YA Books of All Time, Winner, 2017
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2016
  • Michael L. Printz Honor Book, Commended, 2016
  • Writers' League of Texas Discovery Prize, Winner, 2016
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2016
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, Winner, 2016
  • Tomás Rivera Book Award, Winner, 2016
  • Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Finalist, Short-listed, 2015
  • Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year, Winner, 2015
  • ACL Distinguished Book, Winner, 2015
  • Tayshas Reading List, Winner, 2015
  • School Library Journal Best Book, Winner, 2015


The New York Times Book Review

“[This] layered tale of color lines, love and struggle in an East Texas oil town is a pit-in-the-stomach family drama that goes down like it should, with pain and fascination, like a mix of sugary medicine and artisanal moonshine.”—The New York Times Book Review


“Elegant prose and gently escalating action will leave readers gasping for breath at the tragic climax and moving conclusion.”—Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“Pérez deftly weaves [an] unflinchingly intense narrative….A powerful, layered tale of forbidden love in times of unrelenting racism.”―starred, Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal

“This book presents a range of human nature, from kindness and love to acts of racial and sexual violence. The work resonates with fear, hope, love, and the importance of memory….Set against the backdrop of an actual historical event, Pérez…gives voice to many long-omitted facets of U.S. history.”―starred, School Library Journal

Elizabeth Wein

“The beauty of Perez’s prose and her surefooted navigation through the dangerous landscape of the East Texas oil field in the late 1930s redeem the fact that anyone who dares read this agonizing star-crossed love story will end up in about six billion numb and tiny pieces. Absolutely stunning.” —Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity and Michael L. Printz Award Honoree

Author: Ashley Hope Pérez

Ashley Hope Pérez is the author of the YA novels Out of Darkness (Carolrhoda Lab, 2015), The Knife and the Butterfly (Carolrhoda Lab, 2012), and What Can't Wait (Carolrhoda Lab, 2011). Her debut novel What Can't Wait won a spot on the 2012 YALSA Best Fiction for YA list, and The Knife and the Butterfly was included in the 2015 YALSA Popular Paperbacks list. Ashley grew up in Texas and taught high school in Houston before pursuing a PhD in comparative literature. She is now a visiting assistant professor of comparative studies at The Ohio State University and spends most of her time reading, writing, and teaching on topics from global youth narratives to Latin American and Latina/o fiction. She lives in Ohio with her husband, Arnulfo, and their son, Liam Miguel. Visit her online at http://www.ashleyperez.com/.