Review: How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

20140629-113045-41445247.jpgA teenage boy is gunned down in the middle of a bad neighborhood. Was he a gang member? Was he armed? Why was the shooter, who happens to be white, released without being charged? These are all questions brought to light in the first several chapters of this thought-provoking book by Kekla Magoon.

The story is told from multiple perspectives. We hear from almost everyone involved. There are the boys Tariq, the victim, grew up with. Most of them have given in to the allure of gang life. There’s Tariq’s family, including his little sister Tina. We have a well-known reverend who has come to town to help shed light on what really happened while at the same time advancing his political career. There’s the shopkeeper who spoke with Tariq right before his death. And there’s the shooter himself. The only person we don’t hear from is Tariq, but he’s dead. Sometimes when a story is told by so many different people it gets convoluted and loses my interest, but not in this case.

So this is the kind of book that’s sure to evoke deep emotion in some people, controversy among others. At first glance, it’s hard to find sympathy for many of the main characters. They are, after all, hardened gang members who deal in drugs and death. But if the reader takes the time to think a little deeper about the story, this is really a commentary on how our society views and treats members of certain racial and economic classes. And although the book certainly does bear some similarity to the fairly recent Trayvon Martin case, incidents like the one described in the book are sadly common enough that the author could have been writing about any one of them. A great read for those willing to go into the story with an open mind.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: How It Went Down

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