Book Discussion: How It Went Down

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon imgres


The real world doesn’t have an all-knowing narrator who knows the answers to everything… and neither does this book. How It Went Down is the story of a black teenager shot by a white man. Who’s at fault? Was the black kid in a gang? Was the white man a racist asshole? Good question. No one knows for sure.How It Went Down 2

heartRomance Score: N/A

The story doesn’t focus on romance, so I’ve chosen to skip this category.

RosieFeminist Score: Not a Bit to You’re Trying 

I’m struggling with how to grade this. I don’t think there were many strong female characters in the book. One of them is taken in by a married man, and the other is in an abusive relationship. That being said, the characters seemed very real to me, and I empathized heavily with both, especially Kimberly.

diversity people circle iconDiversity Score: A+ Success 

As you can imagine, this book focused heavily on issues of race and the division of a community during a crisis. The book did a great job focusing on hard topics of race, including the assumptions that we make about one another.

wow icon Awesome Factor: Good Effort 

Given the events of the last few years, this is a must-read for anyone who thinks they “know” what happened in a shooting. This book demonstrates the confusion, hurt, tension, and violence that one event can have in a community. I highly recommend this book.

Favorite Character

Tyrell. He worked so hard to achieve his goals, but had unimaginable roadblocks along the way.

Favorite Line

The two newspaper headlines from Pg 134 struck me:

“Mom: ‘Tariq deserves justice ‘ – Slain teen’s family protests alleged shooter’s release”

“Police Chief: ‘Self-Defense a Protected Right”

Sound familiar to anyone?

Is this worth a book hangover?

Yes. This is not a fun, light read, but it’s an important one. Anyone who thinks they fully understand the complexity of race relations, violence and the police in the modern era should read this book. 

Fun Author Fact

According to her website, Kekla Magoon used to be a Girl Scout recruiter. And despite what she claims, that job does sound a little sinister.

Read This Next

This Side of Home by Renee Watson.

Post Author: Anisha

AnishaAnisha adores YA romance – and thinks that all love stories should start on the beach and end with the first kiss. Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.  

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Filed under Contemporary, Heavy Topics, High School

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