February 19, 2018

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It All Comes Down to This by Karen English | SLJ Review

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redstarENGLISH, Karen. It All Comes Down to This. 368p. Clarion. Jul. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544839571.

Gr 5-8 –Sophie is a 12-year-old African American girl living in 1965 Los Angeles. She is intelligent and determined. With two professional parents and a sister on her way to a historically black college, Sophie is living a middle-class life in her mostly white neighborhood and struggling to find acceptance among her peers. Friendship formation and creative ambitions are thwarted by bigotry, but her inner strength leaves her undaunted. Sophie has a complex relationship with her busy, successful parents. Her sister, Lily, is a strong influence on Sophie. Because of Lily’s relationship with the family’s Jamaican housekeeper’s son, she is exposed to social activism and catches a glimpse of the 1965 Watts Riots. Relatable characters populate this story of one significant summer in a girl’s life. Readers will react strongly to the scorn with which Sophie is treated by neighborhood girls, and hopefully be prompted to take up the cause of social justice when they draw parallels between the events of Sophie’s world and contemporary happenings. A few instances of offensive language and a subplot involving adultery make this a choice for middle schoolers or mature middle graders. VERDICT A satisfying combination of historical and realistic fiction featuring an interesting and diverse cast.–Deidre Winterhalter, Oak Park Public ­Library, IL

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

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