About the Book:
Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots.
Los Angeles, 1992
Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.
Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.
As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.
About the Author:
Christina Hammonds Reed holds an MFA in Film and Television Production from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Her short fiction has previously appeared in the Santa Monica Review. She lives in Hermosa Beach, CA.
So I was a bit hesitant about The Black Kids, since it’s technically historical fiction, but since it was set in the 90’s, it felt modern enough that I wasn’t bothered by what I usually am with historical fiction. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book, and at how much I related to some aspects of it.
Things I Liked:
- This book was extremely relevant to the current protests happening across the United States (and internationally), so it was really informative to read about how this has been happening for decades now. It brings up topics of systematic racism, white privilege along with being born into wealth, and just the normal struggles of being a teenager.
- This was also one of my favorite books about being a teenager. As an eighteen-year old, I related to so many of Ashley’s struggles with growing up, and learning to cope with complicated, complex family dynamics and friendships. Ashley’s inner monologue is also very snarky and funny, which immediately makes her incredibly relatable. I remember the stress of applying to colleges, dealing with stupid high school rumors being spread about you. I especially admired how Ashley may have struggled, but managed to persevere and figure out what was most important to her.
- I adored the writing! Christina Hammonds Reed has such a way with words that I wanted to highlight the whole book. I could definitely see this book being taught in schools just based o the writing style alone! No wonder Nic Stone thought the same!
- Like I mentioned before, this is historical fiction, but it felt so modern ( I guess cause 1992 wasn’t even that long ago.) I found the whole setting to be really educational because even though I was born and raised in California, I never ;earned about the LA Rodney King Riots. After reading this book, I fell down a whole of researching not only the Rodney King Riots, but many more protest that took place in CA over the course of the last 30 years.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to educate themselves on the Black American experience, or even just to read about a teen girl trying to find herself!