Friday, January 29, 2010

The Rock and the River

by Kekla Magoon

True to the young teen’s viewpoint, this taut, eloquent first novel will make readers feel what it was like to be young, black, and militant 40 years ago, including the seething fury and desperation over the daily discrimination that drove the oppressed to fight back.


  1. This book is easy enough to read for advanced younger readers, but its subject matter makes it more appropriate for middle and high school students.

    Sam is a likable character for kids as he goes through the very relevant inner struggles of choosing to follow the ways of his peers or his parents. I won't give away the plot by telling which way he chooses, but I loved the author's use of metaphor by comparing these two Civil Rights Movement ideologies to 'the rock' and 'the river'.

    There is a major plot flaw in the book, part of which results in a tragic twist for Sam's brother Stick near the end of the story. In one scene, Black Panthers confront police while openly carrying rifles and are not arrested or attacked for carrying the firearms. In another scene, police open fire because of the presence of a handgun (that no one is even holding). While California state law during this time permitted the carrying of rifles, the story takes place in inner-city Chicago.

  2. For more info about the Black Panther Party (and the law I mentioned above) visit .


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