Thursday, April 30, 2020

Light It Up by Kekla Magoon - HIGH

Light It Up by Kekla Magoon, 358 pages. Henry Holt, (Macmillan), 2019. $19.

Content: Language: R (100+ swears 35 'fs'); Mature Content: PG 13; (teen intimacy) Violence: PG 13; (police brutality, attempted sexual assault).



While hurrying home from school, 13yo Shae Tatum is shot and killed by an on-duty police officer. The community of Underhill is turned upside down - angry, afraid, confused, and grieving. Told in vignette's, the aftermath is recounted in many different voices - student activists, close friends, the young daughter of the police officer, the police commission, gang members, local and national news transcripts. 

This was a difficult book to read. Not because of the many narrators - I liked that, so many perspectives painted a big picture - but because of the heartbreaking story. Some of the terrible things said by racist characters, I felt bad for this author of color who had to write them. It was uncomfortable, and frustrating. A brilliant follow-up to Magoon's 2014 "How it Went Down" the setting is the same community. While many of the young characters were still in high school - most did not live with their parents, apartments with roommates or siblings - they could have easily been college aged - some were. "Light It Up" is an important book, a great diverse read.

Lisa Librarian

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