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X: A Novel
     

X: A Novel

5.0 1
by Ilyasah Shabazz, Kekla Magoon
 

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Winner of the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Youth/Teens
A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

Cowritten by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.

Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve

Overview

Winner of the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Youth/Teens
A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

Cowritten by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.

Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever.

X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Matt de la Peña
Skillfully rendered moments…are what make the novel so successful. Shabazz and Magoon expertly guide the reader by presenting loaded scene after loaded scene, often making us watch young Malcolm choose the wrong path or opt for the buzz of the street over the pull of family and principle. The result is a satisfying (and appropriate) complexity…X is a powerful, honest look at the early years of one of our country's most important civil rights leaders. Most exciting of all is the prospect that his story will awaken a new generation of young activists, inspiring them to step into what remains a vital fight.
Publishers Weekly
★ 10/27/2014
This fictionalized account of the boy who became Malcolm X maintains a suspenseful, poetic grip as it shifts among moments in his life between the years 1930 and 1948. The first-person, present-tense narrative emphasizes the experiences that affected Malcolm from early childhood to his eventual imprisonment. Memories, such as a favorite teacher telling him, “Be as good as you want in the classroom, but out those doors, you’re just a nigger,” or his sighting of a lynched man, trigger a sense of hopelessness that leads to self-destructive choices. Significant people in Malcolm’s life offer different messages: his white lover, Sophia, fears being seen with him, while his siblings believe he has the potential for greatness. Shabazz (Growing Up X), one of Malcolm X’s daughters, and Magoon (How It Went Down) capture Malcolm’s passion for new experiences, the defeatism that plagued him, and the long-buried hope that eventually reclaimed him. Author notes expand on historical context and the facts behind this compelling coming-of-age story. Ages 14–up. Agent: (for Shabazz) Jason Anthony, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin; (for Magoon) Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
A completely absorbing novel... Readers for whom pre-civil rights America is ancient history will find this poetic interpretation eye-opening and riveting.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This fictionalized account of the boy who became Malcolm X maintains a suspenseful, poetic grip as it shifts among moments in his life between the years 1930 and 1948. ... A compelling coming-of-age story.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

An eye-opening look at an important historical figure. The author’s honesty about his early troubles serves to convey that it is possible to rise through adversity to make a positive difference in this world. A worthwhile addition to any collection.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

Although this is a work of fiction, it's strongly tethered to the facts, to the people and events that contributed to Malcolm's world view and his path to becoming a leader. Malcolm's voice is often funny, always perceptive, and as appreciative of beauty as he is critical of the disparity between the rights of whites and blacks.
—Shelf Awareness (starred review)

Shabazz and Magoon bring energy, immediacy, and emotional power to Malcolm’s first-person, present-tense voice. Often painfully candid, the authors effectively depict Malcolm’s lifetime of racial slurs and casual injustices, symbolized by the image of a lynched man hanging from a tree. It’s a satisfyingly complete, never simplistic story of one young man’s journey through trouble to the promise of a life of purpose and meaning.
—Booklist (starred review)

Riveting. ... Vivid. ... Malcolm's voice is often funny, always perceptive, and as appreciative of beauty as he is critical of the disparity between the rights of whites and blacks.
—Shelf Awareness

Malcolm inspired me with his eloquence, his wisdom, and his thirst for truth and righteousness. This powerful, page-turning story tells us how he discovered these qualities within himself.
—Muhammad Ali

Shabazz and Magoon do a remarkable job generating atmosphere, balancing family love in the face of dire circumstances against the pulsating energy of a self-assured young man swaggering through Harlem streets in a fine zoot suit and a conk.... The story of a reckless young man finding himself, X: A Novel is historical fiction at its best —- an artistic exploration of a part of a renowned person's life , one that stays true to his time and place.
—Huffington Post

Powerful and charming—makes you see things in a whole new way. One of the best books I've read in quite some time.
—Chris Rock

Exclusive cover reveal
—We Need Diverse Books

VOYA, February 2015 (Vol. 37, No. 6) - Amanda MacGregor
When we first meet Detroit Red, he is on the run from Archie, the numbers runner he works for who appears to be coming to kill Red. Red will go by many names in his life—Malcolm Little, Detroit Red, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz—but most people know him as Malcolm X. Cowritten with his daughter, this novel follows Malcolm through his early years. It jumps in time between the late 1930s and the late 1940s. Events from Malcolm’s young life—his father’s death, his mother’s institutionalization, living in foster care—all inform the choices he makes once he gets out on his own. He leaves Lansing, Michigan, at sixteen for Roxbury and eventually Harlem. Malcolm learns how to hustle, leading him to selling drugs, running numbers, and burglarizing homes. He struggles with the realities of racism, feeling oppressed and confined despite his parents’ teachings that he could accomplish anything. He eventually lands in prison, angry, frustrated, and dejected. Bereft of hope, he converts to Islam and finally begins to believe his parents’ teachings—that he can be strong, proud, and wise. Heavy on action, with many moments of thoughtful introspection, this well-written look at young Malcolm’s rocky path to becoming a leader shows how people can rise above dire circumstances and move beyond bad choices. Back matter includes an author’s note discussing what happened after the point the book ends, notes about the characters, a time line, historical context, and further reading. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor; Ages 15 to 18.
Children's Literature - Lisa Czirr
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little, but was known as a young man by the street name “Detroit Red.” This fictionalized account, written by one of Malcolm X’s own daughters, details the hardships he faced as a young adult in segregated America. Malcolm’s teen years were spent largely on the run from the law, street thugs, and even his own past as he left his family for the excitement of Boston and Harlem. Throughout the course of the novel’s events, Malcolm is confronted with the injustice of racism, such as the social workers’ treatment of his family or his teacher’s discouragement of his aspirations. Historical elements from the time period are woven in, including culture (jazz), fashion (zoot suits), and the World War II draft. While many adults saw Malcolm as a troublemaker, Shabazz shows that his actions were a result of his circumstances. The story is told in a compelling, non-chronological fashion, with scenes from Malcolm’s childhood in past tense, and the young adult perspective in present. This nonlinear organization makes the story even more engaging, as events only alluded to early in the book are fully described later, such as the mother’s institutionalization and the Little siblings ending up in foster homes. Content at the end gives insight into Malcolm’s life, putting it into a greater historical context. Books for further reading are also included, and would make this book especially useful in a secondary-level history class studying civil rights. Overall, this young adult novel is a fascinating insight into a time before Malcolm became an activist, depicting him as incredibly human, relatable, and struggling with his place in the world. Reviewer: Lisa Czirr; Ages 14 up.
School Library Journal
★ 12/01/2014
Gr 8 Up—Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little. The story opens with his departure from Michigan as a teen, though there are flashbacks to his younger years. It follows Malcolm through his time in Boston and Harlem, culminating with his conversion to Islam and his decision to change his name while in prison in 1948. The story does contain some gritty situations, most notably the use of the "n" word, non-graphic sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and criminal behavior. This was the reality of Malcolm X's early life, and make the later scenes that more authentic. While the novel stops prior to his rise as a civil rights leader, the excellent back matter provides historical context, bibliography, time line, family tree, and a note from the author (who is also the third of Malcolm X's five daughters). This is an eye-opening look at an important historical figure. The author's honesty about his early troubles serves to convey that it is possible to rise through adversity to make a positive difference in this world. A worthwhile addition to any collection.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-10-22
Teaming with veteran Magoon, the third daughter of Malcolm X draws upon history and family stories to create a novel about her father's life before the "X." Malcolm Little grew up in Lansing, Michigan, during the Great Depression. Though times were hard, Malcolm felt that "when Papa was alive, I believed that I was special." But Papa was murdered, his mother entered a mental institution, and the broken family was scattered among foster homes. The unusual but effective chronology of this completely absorbing novel finds Malcolm frequently looking back from 1945 Harlem to specific years in Lansing, trying to make sense of the segregation he faced, a teacher's dismissal of him as "just a nigger" and his father's legacy. Boston was meant to be a fresh start, but Malcolm soon became "a creature of the street," and the authors' evocation of the street hustler's life is richly gritty indeed. Of course the street catches up to him, and ironically, it's in prison where he begins to remake himself. He becomes a reader, corresponds with Elijah Muhammad and, on the final page, signs a letter to Elijah Muhammad as Malcolm X. The author's note carries Malcolm's story further and discusses the significance of his voice in American history. Readers for whom pre-civil rights America is ancient history will find this poetic interpretation eye-opening and riveting. (notes about characters, timeline, family tree, historical context, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763669676
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
01/06/2015
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
131,469
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.50(d)
Lexile:
HL580L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Ilyasah Shabazz, third daughter of Malcolm X, is an activist, community organizer, motivational speaker, and the author of Growing Up X, for which she received an NAACP Image Award nomination. She says, “My father and I both lost our fathers to assassination at an early age, but my father’s voice, his beliefs, and his lessons remained a vital part of my childhood. I consider it an honor and a privilege to tell the story of his life and work.”

Kekla Magoon is the author of several young adult novels, including The Rock and the River, for which she received the 2010 Coretta Scott King—John Steptoe New Talent Author Award and an NAACP Image Award nomination. Kekla Magoon lives in New York City.

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X: A Novel 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
This_Kid_Reviews_Books More than 1 year ago
Synopsis- Malcolm Little was 6 when his father “fell” onto the tracks and died. He was 12 when he was separated from his mother and siblings, and forced to live in a foster home. His family who always told him he could be anything he wants is gone. At 15, he left for Boston to find a new life, and he does. He gets going with the neighborhood kids, and becomes known as Red. He starts in on “reefer”. Then he catches a train to Harlem, and becomes known as Detroit Red (he was from Michigan). Now Malcolm is learning how to run the “numbers” as a hustler. He was doing pretty good, but soon enough, everything spins out of control. What I Though- Wow. Just wow. This was an amazing fictionalized novel. I really didn’t know about Malcolm X before reading this book. This book covers his life from early childhood up to his early 20s. The writing is compelling. It really captures the feeling of the time period. I like how it shows the way the Malcolm saw things and how he handled them. While the book is definitely a young adult (cussing, and Malcolm drinks and does drugs (smokes marijuana), etc.), it is still a very well-done story, and is appropriate for a mature 13-14 year old, or just 15+ for reading level. I like the parts where it shows how Malcolm Little “turned into” Malcolm X. It was a very inspiring story about a person overcoming adversity. It was pretty cool that Ms. Shabazz is Malcolm X’s daughter, and she got information about the book by asking her father’s relatives and friends from the time “before the X”. Realizing the book is a work of fiction, it made me want to find out more about Mr. X and his life so I read some books suggested by my history and English teachers. While I found many of his adult teachings and views are controversial, I think any book like this one, that gets a kid to read more about the subject is great. The overall story in this book is one of a young man trying and failing over and over, but still pulling himself together in the end. Ms. Shabazz captures the story of a young Malcolm X in a riveting story. Bonus points for the cover art too! *NOTE I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review