cover image The Black Kids

The Black Kids

Christina Hammonds Reed. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5344-6272-4

Unfolding in the six days following the 1992 acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King, Reed’s poetic, layered, and seamlessly intersectional debut depicts the coming-to-consciousness of sheltered Ashley Bennett, one of the few Black students at a wealthy, largely white Los Angeles high school. Though Ashley encounters racism, she’s mostly concerned with fitting in with her white childhood friends; her college-dropout sister, Jo, meanwhile, spray paints Communist slogans on the scarred city. Ashley becomes aware of her own racism after accidentally starting a rumor that LaShawn, a Black basketball player on scholarship, may have looted his new sneakers. Getting to know LaShawn is just part of an education that includes a scary brush with the police, as well as long untold family stories about Black Wall Street and intergenerational depression. Although the novel skews a bit lengthy, Reed’s sharp cultural observations make it a pleasurable read, and the world she creates is notably difficult, complex, and funny. Ages 14–up. [em]Agent: David Doerrer, Abrams Artists Agency. (Sept.) [/em]