Review of the Week – How It Went Down

HowItWentDownMagoon, Kekla. How It Went Down. Fiction. Holt, 2014. 326p. $17.99. 978-0-8050-9869-3.
OUTSTANDING. GRADES 8-10.

Sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot by a white man, Jack Franklin. Franklin is picked up by the police but within hours is released without charge. In this Coretta Scott King Author Honor book, Magoon (The River and the Rock, 2009) uses the voices of multiple characters to explore different perceptions of the shooting itself, the aftermath, and the effect it has on Tariq’s family, friends, and community. The ripples spread much wider once a morally compromised senatorial candidate decides to use the shooting as a platform. Magoon shows how, over the
course of nine days, T’s shooting becomes a media cause célèbre and then is forgotten by the wider world, although it has a lasting impact on many in the neighborhood. Several issues are raised: gang membership, white privilege, and political exploitation of death; and Magoon allows readers to make their own conclusions, albeit with a pretty clear agenda of her own. Published after the recent highly publicized death of Michael
Brown and in the wake of the controversial acquittal of George Zimmerman, this is a timely glimpse for teens at what it means to be black and to live and die in an impoverished inner-city neighborhood.

Hayley Beale, San Francisco Univ High School

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