The Rock and the River

The Rock and the River

4.5 28
by Kekla Magoon
     
 

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The Time: 1968

The Place: Chicago

For thirteen-year-old Sam it's not easy being the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older (and best friend), Stick, begins to drift away from him for no apparent reason. And then it happens: Sam finds something that changes everything forever.

Sam has always had

Overview

The Time: 1968

The Place: Chicago

For thirteen-year-old Sam it's not easy being the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older (and best friend), Stick, begins to drift away from him for no apparent reason. And then it happens: Sam finds something that changes everything forever.

Sam has always had faith in his father, but when he finds literature about the Black Panthers under Stick's bed, he's not sure who to believe: his father or his best friend. Suddenly, nothing feels certain anymore.

Sam wants to believe that his father is right: You can effect chnage without using violence. But as time goes on, Sam grows weary of standing by and watching as his friends and family suffer at the hands of racism in their own community. Sam beings to explore the Panthers with Stick, but soon he's involved in something far more serious — and more dangerous — than he could have ever predicted. Sam is faced with a difficult decision. Will he follow his father or his brother? His mind or his heart? The rock or the river?

Editorial Reviews

Julie Just
Magoon's first novel shows movingly how the two sons of a civil rights leader come to bear the cost of the struggle…convincingly detailed
—The New York Times
VOYA - Valerie Ott
Thirteen-year old Sam narrates his bird's eye view of the civil rights movement in this moving historical novel set in 1968 Chicago. Although the characters are fictional, the surrounding events, most notably the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., set the stage for Sam's tumultuous coming-of-age. The son of Roland Childs, a well-known civil rights activist, Sam is a quiet and pensive young man, more comfortable observing the world around him than actively participating in it. Sam's older brother, Stick, on the other hand, openly flouts his father's principles by joining the Black Panthers and leaving home, causing Sam to feel alone and confused about what his own role in the movement should be. When the police unjustly beat and imprison one of the boys' friends, Sam feels forced to make a choice between adhering to his father's pacifist ideals and following Stick's more aggressive approach to achieving equal rights. In an effort to make that choice, Sam attends both his father's peaceful rallies and meetings with Stick. Sam realizes that he has to pave his own way, however, when the story comes to a violent and startling conclusion with Stick's death. Teens may not gravitate to this one on their own; but with a little pushing, Sam's compelling, realistic voice and the author's expert control of the tension leading to the story's climax are sure to hold their attention. Fans of historical fiction will also appreciate this very personal take on such an important part of our country's past. Reviewer: Valerie Ott
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

Sam Childs, 13, is growing up in Chicago in 1968. His father is a civil rights activist, and the boy has been involved in peaceful demonstrations with his family. When he and his girlfriend, Maxie, witness the brutal beating of a friend at the hands of the police, his world begins to change dramatically. His 17-year-old brother brings a gun home and hides it in their shared room. Next thing Sam knows, Stick has run away from home and is involved with the Black Panther Party, whose philosophy his dad does not share. The brutality of the beating has wrought a change in Sam as well, and the good works he sees the Panthers doing in his neighborhood make him question his dad's opinion. The characters are well drawn and the complexities of the relationships between Roland Childs and his two sons are moving. The episodes of violence are graphic, but necessary to move the plot forward, and Magoon portrays well the tension between the Panthers and the Civil Rights Movement. An author's note provides further historical context. While the image of the Black Panther Party is somewhat idealized, this is an important book about a historical reality that has not been dealt with in juvenile fiction.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

Kirkus Reviews
This compelling debut novel set in 1968 Chicago vividly depicts how one African-American family is torn between two opposiing approaches to the Civil Rights Movement. Fourteen-year-old Sam is the son of minister and civil-rights leader Roland Childs, a revered community figure and movement heavyweight whose counsel is sought by Martin Luther King Jr. Sam finds his faith in and respect for his father's stalwart commitment to nonviolence shaken when he discovers that Stick, his older brother and best friend, is involved with the Black Panthers. Sam is torn between the two people he looks up to most. As he poignantly wrestles over which direction to take, Sam both observes and experiences firsthand the injustice of racism. It takes a terrible tragedy for Sam to choose between "the rock and the river." Magoon is unflinching in her depictions of police brutality and racism. She offers readers a perspective that is rarely explored, showing that racial prejudices were not confined to the South and that the Civil Rights Movement was a truly national struggle. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)
From the Publisher
"An intensely significant story..." — Sundee T. Frazier, winner of the ALA 2008 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award

"This is an essential story that has been waiting for its time and its teller. A brave and brilliant accomplishment." — Helen Frost, Printz Honor Award-winning author of Spinning Through the Universe

"Vividly, poignantly, and without compromise, Kekla Magoon takes us to the heart of a world in the messy business of monumental change. The Rock and the River is an extraordinary book that brings unflinchingly to life an extraordinary moment in time." — Tim Wynne-Jones, author of Rex Zero and the End of the World

"What a rich and passionate debut novel! With both intensity and humor, the story that unfolds is at once riveting, disquieting, and ultimately most satisfying." — Ellen Levine, Caldecott Honor Award-winning author of Henry's Freedom Box

"This explosive coming-of-age story, taut with tension and protest, propelled me along like the river of its title. Magoon is most certainly a new and serious talent to watch. An intensely significant story of emotional and historical depth that resonates with relevancy for our age." — Sundee T. Frazier, winner of the ALA 2008 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416978039
Publisher:
Aladdin
Publication date:
04/06/2010
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
93,349
Product dimensions:
5.24(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.83(d)
Lexile:
HL550L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Kekla Magoon has worked with youth-serving nonprofit organizations in New York City and Chicago. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and her first novel, The Rock and the River, won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. She resides in New York City and you can visit her at KeklaMagoon.com.

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The Rock and the River 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
scarlett middleton More than 1 year ago
This book really opens your eyes to what was going on and i almost cried.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic Book ! Would Be A Great Book To Learn About The Civil Rights Movement.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is touching i almost cried
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socraticparenting More than 1 year ago
Set in Chicago in 1968, The Rock and the River is both historical and historic in its honest inquiry into the Civil Rights Movement and racism in the United States. 13-year-old Sam has always followed the rules and done what he’s supposed to do. But what is a young black man to do in a world filled with senseless prejudice and violence? Sam’s father is a civil rights activist devoted to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the principles of nonviolence. Sam’s older brother “Stick” secretly becomes a Black Panther committed to education and service, but not opposed to carrying a gun. Sam sees two police officers brutally beat his friend Bucky and charge him unjustly with assault and resisting arrest. When Dr. King is assassinated and Bucky’s case goes to trial, Sam is caught in the turbulence of change. Should he follow his father’s patient example or join Stick in seeking more immediate justice? While the story itself is fictional, Kekla Magoon includes an Author’s Note explaining the history behind Dr. King’s Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panthers. The racial and ideological conflicts, however, are merely the backdrop as Magoon hones in on the struggle of one middle class teenager unavoidably enmeshed in conflict. The depth of her characters and their relationships will challenge readers to probe their own hearts and minds. There are several violent scenes, but they are necessary to the story and not excessively graphic or sensationalized. Magoon also refrains from offering any oversimplified answers, allowing each of her characters (and empowering her readers) to find their own way. The clarity of language and elegance of style give the novel an element of grace that makes it worth reading more than once. Laurie A. Gray Reprinted from the Christian Library Journal (Vol. XIII, No. 3, August 2009); used with permission.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yum! J3T
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Preaty good book after all coildent ask for betta
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BEST BOOK!! I must say that this book really tells it how it was and was a great way to see it from a young boy's perspective. It changed the way i see other people. This book is a must-read and. If you could only ready one book, let this be it.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
Sam is an African American boy who comes of age in 1960’s Chicago. He is torn between the peaceful civil rights protests of his father and the Black Panther action of his older brother. This book is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Well written books about racism generally piss me off, and this book had my emotions thoroughly engaged. The performance on the audiobook was also fantastic—the reader emotionally charged his voice at just the right levels at just the right times. I would recommend this book for older teens, but it should be screened before given to younger people. There is some realistic violence.