THE ROCK AND THE RIVER by Kekla Magoon

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In some ways, Sam has led a sheltered life.  He has experienced some of the racial prejudice that his father, a well-known Civil Rights activist, is fighting against, but living in his middle-class neighborhood, he has never quite understood the struggle in the same way that others seem to.  His older brother, Stick, on the other hand, seems to be getting involved in things that are over his head.  He has grown frustrated with his father’s methods of peaceful protest and joins the Black Panthers.  Sam is stuck in the middle of the fight between his father and brother, trying to understand the implications for the struggle for Civil Rights and figure out on which side he should take his stand.

This wonderful historical novel weaves realistic family tensions into the political tensions of an important historical period.  The story is gritty, realistic, action-packed, and thought-provoking.  Not the feel-good book of the year, but a gripping read.  The well-researched historical backdrop of the story along-side the intense, character-driven fictional story would also make this an enjoyable book to use in a high school classroom.

 

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