X: A Novel

Overview

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 ...

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X: A Novel

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

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)

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

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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763669676
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 1/6/2015
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 181,614
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL580L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Ilyasah Shabazz

Ilyasah Shabazz, third daughter of Malcolm X, is an activist, producer, motivational speaker, and author of the critically acclaimed Growing Up X and the picture book Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X. She lives in Westchester County, New York.

Kekla Magoon is an award-winning author of many young adult novels, including The Rock and the River, for which she received the 2010 Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent. Kekla Magoon lives in New York City.

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