The Rock and the River

The Rock and the River

4.5 28
by Kekla Magoon
     
 

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In 1968 Chicago, it’s not easy for thirteen-year-old Sam to be the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older brother, Stick, starts keeping to himself. Then, one day, Sam finds something under Stick’s bed that changes everything: literature about the Black Panthers. Suddenly, nothing feels certain anymore. And when

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Overview

In 1968 Chicago, it’s not easy for thirteen-year-old Sam to be the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older brother, Stick, starts keeping to himself. Then, one day, Sam finds something under Stick’s bed that changes everything: literature about the Black Panthers. Suddenly, nothing feels certain anymore. And when Dr. King is shot and killed, Sam’s father’s words are no longer enough to make him believe in change….This moving, coming-of-age story gracefully encompasses the scope of the struggle between the civil rights and black power movements through an intimate and relatable lens.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Being the son of civil rights activist Rowland Child has never been easy, but adhering to nonviolence amid the 1968 racial turbulence in Chicago grows even more difficult for 13-year-old Sam to grasp. The boy adores his older brother, Stephen (better known as Stick), and wants to be just like him in sprite of their different approaches to life. Growing up is tough enough, but when Sam and his girlfriend, Maxie, witness a brutal, unprovoked beating of a friend by police, Sam struggles to be both a "rock and a river" as he tries to figure out who he is and where he stands. Which philosophy can he embrace? Can he accept his father's viewpoint which is closely aligned with that of his friend, Martin Luther King, Jr., or does he favor Stick's more militant ideas of the Black Panthers? The rich voice of Dion Graham brings the taut plot and well-developed characters to life, building suspense and providing insight into Sam's swirling emotions and the sometimes violent events that take place. The evocative language of Kekla Magoon's first novel (Aladdin,, 2009), winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Award, comes to life in this well-paced and deftly read production.—Maria Salvadore, formerly Washington DC Public Library
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
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

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781441858658
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
05/06/2010
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
9 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Kekla Magoon has worked with youth-serving organizations in New York City and Chicago. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and resides in New York City.

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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.