Magoon, Kekla How It Went Down, 326 pgs. Henry Holt, 2014. $17.99. Language: R (82 swears, 38 Fs); Violence: PG13; Mature Content: PG13.
“People make mistakes. They look at the surface of things and see what they want to.” When 16-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot and killed, his community tells the story. Tariq is black and the shooter is white. When the shooter claims self defense and the police decline to file charges, it turns into a national uproar. Told from many points of view: Tariq’s family, friends, gang members, girlfriends, witnesses and spotlight seekers, the versions of How it Went Down are colored by people’s perceptions. Did Tariq have a gun? Was Tariq a gang member? Had he just robbed a store? With so many different versions, it’s hard to say what really happened.
The story is gritty, the characters ring true. There is quite a bit of swearing, but the gang members and others would not have sounded real without it. The violence is handled carefully, but the shooting itself is disturbing and not the only instance. Some sexual situations, not graphic but on page, too mature in all areas for younger than high school age. That said, this was a good read. Timely, (written before the situation in Ferguson) and poignant, I would recommend this for the high school library, but keep in mind the language and maturity content might offend.
HS - - OPTIONAL Lisa Librarian