cover image X: A Novel

X: A Novel

Ilyasah Shabazz, with Kekla Magoon. Candlewick, $16.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6967-6

This fictionalized account of the boy who became Malcolm X maintains a suspenseful, poetic grip as it shifts among moments in his life between the years 1930 and 1948. The first-person, present-tense narrative emphasizes the experiences that affected Malcolm from early childhood to his eventual imprisonment. Memories, such as a favorite teacher telling him, “Be as good as you want in the classroom, but out those doors, you’re just a nigger,” or his sighting of a lynched man, trigger a sense of hopelessness that leads to self-destructive choices. Significant people in Malcolm’s life offer different messages: his white lover, Sophia, fears being seen with him, while his siblings believe he has the potential for greatness. Shabazz (Growing Up X), one of Malcolm X’s daughters, and Magoon (How It Went Down) capture Malcolm’s passion for new experiences, the defeatism that plagued him, and the long-buried hope that eventually reclaimed him. Author notes expand on historical context and the facts behind this compelling coming-of-age story. Ages 14–up. Agent: (for Shabazz) Jason Anthony, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin; (for Magoon) Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. (Jan.)