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Endangered: A Novel Hardcover – July 1, 2014
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“[An] engaging debut. . . . Cush has crafted a compassionate story that commands the reader’s attention.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Jean Love Cush fashions a far-reaching, thought-provoking tale from the kind of tragedy found any day on local newscasts and in the small type of big-city newspapers.” (Michael A. Fletcher, author of Being a Black Man in America and Supreme Discomfort)
“Cush makes a passionate argument for the defense of young men whose only crimes were being born black in America. . . . A frightening and realistic story about the realities of racism, poverty and injustice.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“…provocative…” (Philadelphia City Paper)
“A heartwarming, insightful, and thought-provoking tale that is oftentimes all too true. The emotional impact is immediate. . . . It’s an infusion of masterful writing and raw emotion. It blow me away.” (Celeste Norfleet, author of The Thrill of You)
“Endangered is a gripping tale that captivates from the first page to the very last. This phenomenal debut pulls at your heartstrings and exposes an unfair justice system while simultaneously engrossing you with skillful storytelling. It was amazing.” (Ashley & Jaquavis, New York Times bestselling authors of The Cartel)
“A provocative look at the criminal justice system... Endangered is a powerful novel inspired by an all too real tragedy - the perilous state of inner city African-American men.” (Iron Mountain Daily News)
“Engrossing. . . Janae’s raw emotions and feelings were fittingly portrayed as the young mother concerned about her son’s outcome.” (FictionZeal.com)
“A quick, engaging story. . . A stark reminder of the human inside the skin, regardless of color, Endangered has the potential to open up discussions that are long overdue.” (Shelf Awareness)
“An innocent black teenager is accused of murder in this provocative and compassionate thriller that skillfully probes issues of race, class, crime, and injustice and offers a searing portrait of modern America.” (Book Club Girl)
“Bravely tackles the important social issue of racial injustice. . . Powerful.” (Library Journal)
From the Back Cover
To save her son from a legal system bent on sending African American men to jail, a young mother agrees to an unprecedented, controversial defense offered up from a team of crack lawyers, in this debut novel that speaks to race, class, and justice in America.
Janae Williams, a never-missed-a-day-of-work single mother, has devoted her whole life to properly raising her son. From the time Malik could walk, Janae taught him that the best way to stay alive and out of trouble with the law was to cooperate. Terrified for his safety, she warned him to "raise your hands high, keep your mouth shut, and do whatever they say" if stopped by the police. But when a wave of murders hits Philadelphia and fifteen-year-old Malik is arrested, Janae's terror is compounded by guilt and doubt: Would Malik be in jail if he had run?
Blocked at every turn from seeing her son, Janae is also unable to afford adequate legal representation. In steps the well-meaning Roger Whitford, a lawyer who wants to use Malik's case to upend the entire criminal justice system. Janae simply wants her son free, but Roger, with the help of an ambitious private attorney, is determined to expose the system's hostility toward black boys.
Offering a startling and unprecedented defense, the lawyers spark a national firestorm of debate over race, prison, and politics. As Janae battles to save her son, she begins to discover that she is also fighting for her own survival and that of the future of her community.
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Top Customer Reviews
There were two things that bothered me though.
1. There is no evidence against Malik and even a public defender would have been able to keep this out of court.
2. (Trying not to give spoilers) The usage of the Endangered Species Act was not believable. First off, black men ar not a species. Second, humans are nowhere close to endangered. This argument would have never flown in court.
Overall, I liked the book, but I would have really liked to see the argument for his release to have been different.
"Endangered" doesn't go the "Native Son" route at all but it does have a preachiness that got a little tiring but I really liked the premise and set up for how Malik gets into such a tight bind. The idea that you do the 'right thing' and it smacks you right up because you were in trouble just by being.
I am glad (for lack of a better word) that I waited before I wrote my review because over the weekend, reality happened. Reality being that the Ferguson incident happened and suddenly, I had to re-think what I considered 'preachy' about the book. Is it preachy when there does seem to be a default danger to young men of a certain racial group? I don't know the exact answer but I do know that suddenly, Cush's story became a lot more immediate for me and something I needed to ponder more on.
The criminal justice system has historically underserved members of the economic lower echelon, the procedural maze encumbering the mother of the young man accused of murder in this narrative is actually pretty commonplace in many communities throughout this country...and in other countries as well. Many aspects of the fictionalized account may be revelatory for some readers, particularly anyone who has signed up for the big gulp sized subscribe `n save order of the post-racial society Kool Aid.
I accept and recognize the author's prerogative to attempt to infuse a romantic vein to the narrative however in doing so she also tiptoed into another morass of stereotypical presentation regarding the Black professional male that seemed unnecessary and arguably short-sighted when juxtaposed with the core focus of her story.
The story involves teenage Malik, who is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Thus begins his mistreatment at the hands of a justice system that is designed to discriminate, systematically, against the socioeconomically disadvantaged. However, there is possible help on the line, from a White attorney who seems more interested in Malik as a type than as a young Black man facing an unjust charge to a Black attorney who also takes an interest in Malik’s mother.
The book clearly is intended to expose a fundamental problem in the legal system, and I suspect that some who read this will dismiss it for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it posits an innocent caught in the system and thus misses a chance to talk about a broader facet, namely the unequal treatment of guilty people. But the story is well grounded in many of the current events of 2015 and certainly should be relatively easy to defend. In particular, I think it’s a fascinating companion to To Kill a Mockingbird, almost as if it’s a response to that book.
As for the three reactions above, I strongly suspect those with the second reaction will readily dismiss the plot and point here. But others should find this honest expression of frustration to be generally powerful.