cover image The Awakening of Malcolm X

The Awakening of Malcolm X

Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-374-31329-6

This fictionalized account, penned by Malcolm X’s daughter Shabazz (Betty Before X) with Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award winner Jackson (Grown), recounts how Malcolm Little, the 20-year-old young man who would become civil rights icon Malcolm X, was convicted of a series of property crimes in 1946, after being framed by a white woman he was dating. Incarcerated first in Charlestown State Prison and then Norfolk Prison Colony, Malcolm experiences firsthand the treatment endured by Black men facing incarceration: dehumanization, violence, and brutal isolation. Enraged at the injustice of his circumstances and nurtured by family and fellow inmates, Malcolm is encouraged to liberate himself through knowledge and then conversion to Islam. Through these studies, Malcolm eventually comprehends the backbreaking plight of Black people in America and takes a stand against it. Unresolved subplots and a considerable time jump that glosses over a period of considerable change for Malcolm X undercut this otherwise thought-provoking narrative account. Still, Shabazz and Jackson effectively illuminate not only the figure’s religious and political awakening, but the injustice historically leveled against the Black community by mass incarceration and systemic racism. Ages 12–up. [em](Jan.) [/em]