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How It Went Down
by Kekla Magoon


Overview -

A 2015 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.

In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up.  Read more...


 
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More About How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
 
 
 
Overview

A 2015 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.

In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth.

Tariq's friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down.

This title has Common Core connections.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780805098693
  • ISBN-10: 0805098690
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
  • Publish Date: October 2014
  • Page Count: 326
  • Reading Level: Ages 14-17
  • Dimensions: 8 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.85 pounds


Related Categories

Books > > Social Themes - Prejudice & Racism
Books > > Social Themes - Death & Dying

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-08-25
  • Reviewer: Staff

Structured similarly to Avi’s Nothing But the Truth, this provocative novel set in a neighborhood ruled by gangs offers multiple, contradictory perspectives on the shooting of an African-American youth. No one disputes that 16-year-old Tariq Johnson was shot on the street by Jack Franklin, a white gang member, but the motives of both killer and victim remain fuzzy, as do the circumstances surrounding the shooting. The nationally renowned Reverend Alabaster Sloan claims that racial bias was involved and criticizes the police for releasing Jack. Locals have differing opinions, which spur more questions. Was the killing a matter of self-defense? Did Tariq have a weapon? Was he a gang member? Even eyewitnesses disagree on many points. Expressing the thoughts of Tariq’s family, neighbors, friends, and enemies, Magoon (37 Things I Love ) creates a montage of impressions for readers to digest before drawing conclusions about the tragedy. Through this resonant chorus of voices, Magoon masterfully captures the cycle of urban violence and the raw emotions of the young people who can’t escape its impact. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. (Oct.)

 
BookPage Reviews

A community seeks answers

BookPage Teen Top Pick, November 2014

Kekla Magoon’s books just keep getting better. The first time I read her work, I was serving on the Coretta Scott King Awards committee, and we honored Magoon with the Steptoe New Talent Award for The Rock and the River. So it’s with special pride that I look forward to each of her subsequent releases.

A review of How It Went Down could read like a cliché: “ripped from the headlines . . . as fresh as the morning paper . . . as gripping as any story on the nightly news.” But this book is not cliché at all. Written shortly after the death of Trayvon Martin and published shortly after the killing of Michael Brown and the response in Ferguson, Missouri, it’s a hard book to read without flashing back to headlines.

It’s the story of one young man, Tariq Johnson, who is shot while walking down the street at 5:30 p.m. by a white man who drives away in a borrowed car. Though Tariq carried no weapon, the shooter claims self-defense and is released after questioning. What might have been a linear story is made much more interesting as many of the survivors—grief-stricken, angry family members, gang friends and neighbors—reveal their own tales. Each person has an attachment to Tariq, and each tries to figure out the truth.

The reader gets caught in the same maze as everyone else: Who was Tariq? What happened on that afternoon? These hundreds of vignettes, with their varying narrators and conflicting perspectives, could leave the reader confused, but Magoon keeps a firm hand on her story. We may never find the answers we’re looking for, but after reading this book, we will look at the headlines with a much more critical eye.

This is not only a book to read in one gulp; it’s a book that asks you to slow down and read it over and over again. It’s an important, compelling story that everyone should read, especially high school students trying to make sense of our supposed post-racial world.

 

This article was originally published in the November 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews