From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–Being the son of civil rights activist Rowland Child has never been easy, but adhering to nonviolence amid the 1968 racial turbulence in Chicago grows even more difficult for 13-year-old Sam to grasp. The boy adores his older brother, Stephen (better known as Stick), and wants to be just like him in sprite of their different approaches to life. Growing up is tough enough, but when Sam and his girlfriend, Maxie, witness a brutal, unprovoked beating of a friend by police, Sam struggles to be both a "rock and a river" as he tries to figure out who he is and where he stands. Which philosophy can he embrace? Can he accept his father's viewpoint which is closely aligned with that of his friend, Martin Luther King, Jr., or does he favor Stick's more militant ideas of the Black Panthers? The rich voice of Dion Graham brings the taut plot and well-developed characters to life, building suspense and providing insight into Sam's swirling emotions and the sometimes violent events that take place. The evocative language of Kekla Magoon's first novel (Aladdin,, 2009), winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Award, comes to life in this well-paced and deftly read production.Maria Salvadore, formerly Washington DC Public Library
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*Starred Review* In Chicago in 1968, Sam, 14, obeys his father, an eloquent civil-rights leader who is close with Dr. King and is passionately committed to nonviolent protest. But after King is assassinated and Sam witnesses police brutality toward a friend, Sam follows his rebellious older brother, Stephen (“Stick”), and joins the Black Panthers, whose revolutionary platform is the opposite of the nonviolent philosophy that Sam has been taught at home. Then Sam’s father is stabbed. Will the brothers retaliate with violence? True to the young teen’s viewpoint, this taut, eloquent first novel will make readers feel what it was like to be young, black, and militant 40 years ago, including the seething fury and desperation over the daily discrimination that drove the oppressed to fight back. Sam’s middle-class family is loving and loyal, even when their quarrels are intense; and Magoon draws the characters without sentimentality. Along with the family drama, the politics will grab readers, especially the Panthers’ political education classes and their call for “land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace.” A long author’s note fills in background in this important title for YA American history classes. Grades 6-10. --Hazel Rochman