Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots.
Los Angeles, 1992
Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.
Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.
As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.
With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?
Title : The Black Kids
Author : Christina Hammond Reeds
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date : August 4, 2020
Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 4 star review
THE BLACK KIDS is a compelling look back at a black teen’s life in the Rodney King riots era. This couldn’t resonate more with recent events if it tried, but this was more so focused on Ashley’s realisation about her personal identity. I loved the era and the music but it was hard to like Ashley’s crew of friends.
Ashley was living a less usual life for a black teen, living in a white neighbourhood, going to a mainly white school and choosing to have only white friends. Both at school and at home, she lived a life of privledge and had lost some of her black identity along the way, as her parents aimed to keep her safe, well educated and give her a ‘better’ life.
My parents and grandparents have made it so that Jo and I know nothing. We know nothing of crack or gangs or poverty….We are, according to my father, spoiled rotten little brats.
This story was the unfurling of contemporary events at the time, prompting Ashley to pause, think about who she was, who her friends were and what direction she wanted to go. She had a pretty eclectic family mix and I really liked her sister and that side story. The school friends however, were all superficial friendship with a bit of vile mean girl under the surface. I welcomed seeing Ashley spread her friendship wings.
“Since when do you listen to so much black shit?”
“I’m black,” I say.
“Yeah, but you’re not, like, blackity black,” she says.
This was a full and deep story despite it coming from a seemingly flighty teen. There was great character development and weaving in of the riots of that time. I was absorbed throughout and I really enjoyed the writing. Highly recommended.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster UK for the early review copy.