cover image How It Went Down

How It Went Down

Kekla Magoon. Holt, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9869-3

Structured similarly to Avi’s Nothing But the Truth, this provocative novel set in a neighborhood ruled by gangs offers multiple, contradictory perspectives on the shooting of an African-American youth. No one disputes that 16-year-old Tariq Johnson was shot on the street by Jack Franklin, a white gang member, but the motives of both killer and victim remain fuzzy, as do the circumstances surrounding the shooting. The nationally renowned Reverend Alabaster Sloan claims that racial bias was involved and criticizes the police for releasing Jack. Locals have differing opinions, which spur more questions. Was the killing a matter of self-defense? Did Tariq have a weapon? Was he a gang member? Even eyewitnesses disagree on many points. Expressing the thoughts of Tariq’s family, neighbors, friends, and enemies, Magoon (37 Things I Love [In No Particular Order]) creates a montage of impressions for readers to digest before drawing conclusions about the tragedy. Through this resonant chorus of voices, Magoon masterfully captures the cycle of urban violence and the raw emotions of the young people who can’t escape its impact. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. (Oct.)