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Book Review: Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Sexually explicit content available at Canyon Independent School District in Region 16 of Texas:

Title: Out of Darkness

Author: Ashley Hope Perez

Publisher: Holiday House or Carolrhoda Lab ®

Publication Date: 2015

Categorization: Young Adult

Lexicon Level: 660L 3rd grade reading level

Pages: 410


  • Randall High School (CISD)

  • Canyon High School (CISD)

“For the boys, pu*sy or the idea of pu*sy or the idea of the idea of pu*sy. ‘A Mexican is a Mexican is a Mexican,’ she said, plenty loud for the rest of us to hear. The girls among us followed Miranda’s lead and began to tally flaws. Clothes from five years ago, a braid long out of style. Patch on the back hem of her dress. And also: how come her name is Smith when Smith isn’t Mexican? Look at her, making eyes at Fred Carter, not wasting any time. The boys among us had no trouble getting past the plain clothes and laying down plans. Take her out back, we boys figured, then: hand on the titties; put it in her coin box; put it in her cornhole; grab a hold of that braid; rub that calico.” p39

PROFANITY COUNT (or other sensitive words to give context)

  • nigger 23

  • cunt 1

  • dirty Mexican 3

  • cornhole 1

  • titties 1

  • f*ck 2

  • d*ck 2

  • p*ssy 4

  • a*s 1

  • b*tch 1

  • b*stard 5

  • sex 1

  • pregnant 4

  • rape 2

  • drunk 3

  • beer 6

  • shit 8

  • damn 29

  • Jesus 4 (in vain)

  • God 13 (in vain)


  • Sexual Content, Pornography

  • Bigotry, Racism

  • Violence

  • Language

  • Drugs, Drinking, Smoking


  • A 2016 Michael L. Printz Honoree

  • A Booklist 50 Best YA Books of All Time Selection

  • A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

  • A School Library Journal Best Book

  • Winner of the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award



Naomi, the main character, is sexually abused by her stepfather, Henry, as a child and continues after her mother’s death.

The church pastor encourages her stepfather to marry Naomi before she has even finished school.

A gas explosion happens at the local school and her little sister is killed—graphic descriptions of her body parts all over. The dead sister’s twin brother lies with her body until they can bury her.

Many of the teen and adult characters masturbate.

  1. multiple, comprehensive-enough instructions on giving “hand jobs” (adult males training teen girls);

  2. female masturbation (protagonist) justified for pain relief and mental escape by a girl living through the trauma of being sexually abused by a stepfather;

  3. male masturbation by both the stepdad (villain) and love interest (hero);

The main character has graphic sexual activity with her boyfriend, Wash. She is Hispanic, he is black and this relationship is “unwelcome” for 1930’s.

At the end of the book, Henry discovers the relationship. He forces Naomi’s little brother to tie the boyfriend, Wash, to a tree. Henry violently rapes his underage daughter in front of his son (her brother) and Wash who is tied to the tree. Henry beats the daughter while raping her then coerces the son to shoot Wash. Son hesitates. Henry shoots his daughter in the leg then beats Wash until he falls on top of Naomi. He shoots Wash and the bullet goes through both of them.

Son shoots father in the head—book describes pieces of his head hitting the tree behind him.

* Credits to Common Sense Media for partial summary and extended parental reviews as well as 'LISD Parents for Academic-Focused Curriculum' .


"He shifted in his pajamas, and the part of him that made him a man stuck out, reddish purple and frightening. She had never seen one before except on a baby. This was different. He lifted her hand to his mouth and licked it. Then he lowered her hand down and closed it around the hardness. His hand moved hers.... She watched her hand move back and forth like it didn't belong to her."

"His hands opened her thighs, and then he was touching her with his mouth, kissing warmth, wetness. she might have been ashamed, but she wasn't. She was alive, tremblingly alive."


Pervasively vulgar content. Not appropriate for K-12 schools.



Below version for Canyon ISD:

Out of Darkness
Download PDF • 22.54MB

Below version to use in any school district. We have left the bottom line blank so that you may insert your own library or reading list names. We have also left some blank space on the last page so that you can insert a message or your own board of trustees. Go get 'em!

Out of Darkness_Blank
Download PDF • 22.52MB

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