Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Book Review: How It Went Down
Author: Kekla Magoon
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Synopsis (via Goodreads): When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white. In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth. Tariq's friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down.
Review: All I could think about while reading How It Went Down was the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case. Now, I don't know if this book was inspired by that event, or just crimes similar to Trayvon's case, but that's all I could think about.
After leaving the gas station to pick up a couple of things for his mom and sister, members of a local gang called the Kings, start harassing Tariq. The leader of the gang, Brick, has been doing everything in his power to convince Tariq to join the Kings; however, Tariq wants nothing to do with it. The situation is misinterpreted by a bystander and Tariq winds up dead.
It took me about 150 pages to get the characters straight. Tariq's story is told through 10+ points of view - some were family members, some were friends, some were involved with the crime, but all were impacted by the shooting. The entire story spans over nine days. The difference of opinions from the characters about what they think happened that fateful night goes to show how there are multiple sides to a story. Literally the entire book is about each of the characters trying to cope and wrap their minds around what happened, while the reader is handed clues to solve the puzzle and piece together what actually went down. (Get it?! Went down?!)
My opinion in the book also went down as I neared the end. Maybe it's my lack of gang experience (which I'm totally cool with) or the fact that that topic doesn't appeal to me. Maybe it's because of how many POV's there were. Maybe it's because of how short the chapters were. Long story short: I was not impressed.