Sunday, August 28, 2011

Booktalk: The Rock and the River (Virginia Readers' Choice)

It is really, really tough to be an African-American teenager in 1968. Sam’s father is a personal friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sam is used to life as a Civil Rights Movement child. He’s marched in civil rights marches, listened to passionate speeches, and protested for equal treatment of blacks and whites. Sam’s older brother, Stick, has joined an organization called the Black Panthers, and Sam’s father is not happy about this. You know, it’s awful when people in your family are fighting about something. Ironically, Sam’s father and Sam’s brother are both firm believers in equal civil rights for blacks and whites, but they disagree on how this equality should be achieved. Guess who’s caught in the middle of this family dispute? Right, Sam. But what do you do when, like Sam, you repeatedly witness white police officers unfairly beating and charging blacks with crimes they didn’t commit? Do you side with your dad, who says deal with it nonviolently? Or do you side with your brother’s Black Panther friends, who say to fight back? In this case, the wrong choice could cost you your life. The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon.

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon. 290 p. Aladdin: 2009. Booktalk to middle school, high school. Personal recommendation: while I enjoyed this book, it does have some traumatic scenes, especially the ending. I would not recommend this to middle schoolers whom I felt were not emotionally read for it.

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