Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

As 16 year old Tariq Johnson runs away from the corner market the owner yells "Come back here!".  A white man gets out of his car and within a matter of seconds Tariq is dead from two gunshots.  Each witness tells the story of what happened a little differently but  each of them believes they have the true account.  As the many characters talk about what they saw their lives continue to be affected by Tariq's death and the ensuing consequences.

The bare bones of the story is ripped from the headlines but it becomes much more multilayered from there.  At first there is just the lack of agreement amongst the narrators but as the book goes on the pressure of living in the neighborhood becomes the more central point.  I was really saddened by Tariq's best friend struggling to stay clear of the gang but finding that he might not have any other choice.  And was Tariq keeping his word that he would not ever join the gang or was he already in?  It depends on which narrator you believe.  A really thoughtful, honest look at life in a gang-ridden neighborhood that doesn't rely on stereotypes.