FICTION

The Black Kids

S. & S. Aug. 2020. 368p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534462724.
COPY ISBN
Gr 9 Up–Ashley Bennett is almost done with her senior year of high school when the verdict in the Rodney King trial comes out, shaking up her halcyon life. In Los Angeles in 1992, Ashley is the lone Black girl among her group of white friends who don’t understand that she has to behave better than them to be seen as just as good. Jo, her “troubled older sister,” gets caught up in the injustice of the verdict and is drawn to the riots, perplexing and worrying Ashley and her family. Stuck between worlds, with her affluent Black family in their white neighborhood, and still being taken care of by Lucia, her Guatemalan nanny and second mother, Ashley isn’t sure where she fits in. While bigger issues are at play, she still has personal problems, keeping a secret from her friends and accidentally spreading a rumor that LaShawn, one the few Black kids at her school and the star basketball player, stole a pair of Jordans during the riots. Incredibly nuanced, this story depicts realistic characters dealing with their own desires, while not forgetting the difficult circumstances in which they’re living. Family history is also skillfully incorporated into the plot, connecting all the threads. This realistic fiction debut is a snapshot of a moment when people wanted to fight back against oppression and police brutality, and took action as the lines between right and wrong became blurred.
VERDICT An excellent addition to all teen collections with a relatable main character who will lead readers through this heated moment in time.

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