Why Did I Read This Book?
I requested this book because it coincided with all the protests happening here in the UK and in America. I had seen it everywhere on Twitter and so when I saw it advertised on NetGalley I had to request it.
What Did I Think?
The Black Kids is a coming-of-age debut novel by Christina Hammonds Reed which explores race, class, and violence as well as the importance of being true to yourself.
One of the reviews I read of this book stated that ‘it should be essential reading for the classroom’ and I definitely agree with that statement. It is set during the 1992 LA uprisings which I shamefully had to research whilst reading the book. What I hadn’t realised is that in 1992, there was uproar in LA after a trial jury acquitted four officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for using excessive force in the arrest and beating of Rodney King, which had been videotaped and widely viewed in TV broadcasts. I found it extremely moving that it is evidently clear that history always seems to repeat itself, especially when it comes to racism and inequality.
Throughout the book, we follow the life of Ashley Bennet in the midst of the riots. I really liked the character but she came across very weak and tried to please everyone, which we know never works. I found it interesting that Ashley doesn’t feel like she can relate to the other black students or other black people int the community because of her families wealth and her upbringing. Christina Hammonds Reed does a great job of helping readers to understand that everyone is different. Not all white people are the same, and neither are all black people.
I also think that the author does a great job of exploring how it is sometimes difficult for young people to fully understand what is happening in the news. Once you are a certain age, are you expected to hold your own opinion of events or do you just turn a blind eye and leave it for the adult to sort out.
There are a lot of contrasts within this story and I really enjoyed these clever little moments. Overall, the main story really hit home as only a few months ago, we were protesting and rioting about a similar event in America. I think it is important to educate people on events like this because they are always sadly reoccurring.
“Everyone thinks the riots are only about Rodney, but they are not. They are also about Latasha. Latasha was a black girl my age in Los Angeles. She went into a liquor store to buy orange juice, and the Korean woman at the counter thought she was stealing. She wasn’t. They got into a fight and as Latasha tried to walk away, the woman at the counter shot her in the back of the head. Over orange juice. Her killer got nothing. The judge said the killer was the real victim. Rodney got brutally beaten on videotape. Nothing. No justice. No peace.”
The Black Kids
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
# of Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction,
Trigger Warnings: Violence, riots, racism, police brutality, bullying
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Blackwells