This quick, compulsive read weaves together beautiful prose, three-dimensional characters, and powerful messages in ways that are uncommon in YA. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Title: The Black Kids
Author: Christina Hammonds Reed
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: Aug 4, 2020
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
I received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots.
Los Angeles, 1992
Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.
Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.
As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.
With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?
I think what will stay with me the most about this book is the structure in which it is written. I didn’t catch onto it until later on, but each chapter is told in a different style. Some chapters are lists, some are a series of flashbacks… there are so many different ways the author told Ashley’s story. I ate it up. The imagery and style of writing was like poetry in novel-form, and it was gorgeous.
Being inside Ashley’s head as she discovers what she wants and how she wants to act and react to everything going around her is a journey. Her observations are so realistic, her emotions just jump off the page. It was an experience seeing her struggle and triumph. Her friends, her parents, and her family members are all given the same love—each has motivations, emotions, and back story that just feel so real.
- No quick thoughts for me!
This book is incredible, and I think everyone should read it.