cover image It All Comes Down to This

It All Comes Down to This

Karen English. Clarion, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-544-83957-1

Set against the backdrop of the 1965 Los Angeles riots, this illuminating novel explores an African-American girl’s awakening to racial division in her community. Twelve-year-old Sophie’s family moves to a white L.A. neighborhood just months before Sophie’s older sister, Lily, will leave to attend college in Atlanta. It might be a step up for the girls’ status-conscious mother, but Sophie is miserable: her parents’ marriage is on the brink, her mother has hired the grim and critical Mrs. Baylor as housekeeper, and almost no one is interested in being Sophie’s friend. After Sophie meets Nathan—Mrs. Baylor’s handsome, college-age son (who is too dark-skinned to get Sophie’s mother’s approval)—she learns how destructive prejudice can be. Through his stories, Sophie begins to see the world differently, and when violent hate crimes break out in his neighborhood, Sophie witnesses firsthand the dangers from which she has been shielded. Expressing subtle and blatant bigotries alike, English (the Carver Chronicles series) movingly reveals how an impressionable and intelligent child learns from the injustices that touch her, her family, and her friends. Ages 10–12. Agent: Steven Chudney, Chudney Agency. (July)