I first learned of this book while scrolling through a fellow bookstagrammer’s page (@bookswithtay). It was basically love at first sight. From the title and cover art alone, I was sold on reading the book. I haven’t read that many books with a Black main character so I was so excited to read a story from the perspective of someone I could relate to in several different ways. I also loved supporting the Black queen of an author, Christina Hammonds Reed. I learned that The Black Kids was her debut novel and now I’m super excited to see what books may come from her in the future! Before getting into the review, here is a synopsis of the book.
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?
My Spoiler-Free Review:
I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of this book when I first started, but now reading the synopsis I can see that although it does some up the story quite well, there is so much more to it! I fell in love with the main character, Ashley Bennet, almost instantly. There is something about her thoughts and how she expresses herself in the dialogue that I was able to connect to very deeply. I love how honest and blunt she can be. It feels confident yet vulnerable all at once and I couldn’t get enough of it. She also can go off on random tangents, or throw in a thought as it comes to her in the middle of another, and it has been the closest I’ve felt to truly being in someone’s head while reading.
Ashley’s character has so many beautiful complexities and you get to watch her grow and embrace her blackness with every turn of the page. Like everyone, she has flaws that sometimes bring her to do bad things, but no matter what you will want the best for her as she learns what that “best” actually is. Through her eyes we are also able to meet a wide array of different characters spanning from her family, friends, and classmates. With this comes tons and tons of unique and interesting back stories that add an extra level of impact to the overall reading experience. With this vast set of characters also comes a bit of drama that leaves you wanting more throughout the book.
Along with shedding light on the importance of the Rodney King riots of 1992, the book also discusses the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. I highly encourage you to learn more about it in this book and by also researching it online. It is something that should be taught in the history classes of every school in America. I couldn’t believe that my first time hearing about it was during my Sophomore year of college. We need to do better when it comes to educating ourselves, and the youth, on the true history of the nation and this book is a great start for people of any age.
I give this book a five-star rating. It was emotional, funny, heartbreaking, and inspirational all at once. I think there is so much to learn about ourselves and each other just within the pages of this book. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to experience a great story while also getting a chance to grow as an individual. This will probably be on my all-time favorites list and I will surely be revisiting it in the future. I may even need to advocate to get this book on a school curriculum because it is an absolute hit!
Purchase a copy of the Black Kids using my link: https://amzn.to/38bchMc
Let me know if you decide to give this book a shot! Or if you’ve read it already I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
As always, Happy Reading!
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