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How It Went Down Hardcover – October 21, 2014
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A 2015 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
One death. Two bullets. Seven eyewitnesses...with seven different stories.
When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.
In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth.
Tariq's friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down.
This title has Common Core connections.
From School Library Journal
* “Magoon masterfully captures the cycle of urban violence and the raw emotions of the young people who can't escape its impact.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
* “How It Went Down is a snapshot in time, a fascinating study of people caught in the crosshairs of an "Event." . . . A particularly timely tale that can create dialogue and provide understanding about the decisions other people make, and the actions they take.” ―VOYA, starred review
* “This sobering yet satisfying novel leaves readers to ponder the complex questions it raises.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“The many voices provide poignant insights into the forces at play in the impoverished neighborhoods, where joining a gang is tough to resist, but the various perspectives also offer compelling and plausible insights into the way perceptions and preconceptions shape narratives and affect our actions.” ―BCCB
“The layered voices tell a story both simple and complicated, heartbreaking and maddening.” ―The Chicago Tribune
“Kekla Magoon's books just keep getting better….It's an important, compelling story that everyone should read, especially high school students trying to make sense of our supposed post-racial world.” ―BookPage, A Teen Top Pick
“In How It Went Down, Kekla Magoon deftly renders us witnesses to an all-too-common news flash in uncommon, unflinching prose. Gripping to the end.” ―Rita Williams-Garcia Newbery Honor winner, National Book Award finalist, and Coretta Scott King Award winner
“A hard-hitting look at the ripple effects of one act of violence on an entire community. How It Went Down is engrossing and real--it's the right book at the right time.” ―Coe Booth, LA Times Book Prize winner
“Thoughtful and compassionate, beautifully composed, this book takes us inside what we think we know and shows us more.” ―Helen Frost, Printz Honor winner
“A powerful novel that will resonate with fans of Myster's Monster and Woodson's Miracle's Boys.” ―The Horn Book
“Kekla Magoon's How It Went Down about a black teen who is shot by a white man, is . . . just the right title for young adults grappling with the headlines streaming in every day.” ―School Library Journal
“Heartbreaking and unputdownable.” ―School Library Journal
- ASIN : 0805098690
- Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (October 21, 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780805098693
- ISBN-13 : 978-0805098693
- Reading age : 14 - 18 years
- Lexile measure : HL560L
- Grade level : 9 and up
- Item Weight : 13.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.71 x 1.19 x 8.1 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,012,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on December 13, 2017
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I think that race and perceptions are definite subjects that need to be discussed, but this author's explicit language makes it reading for older teens / adults.
Kekla Magoon skillfully orchestrates eighteen perspectives in telling the story of Tariq Johnson’s death and its aftermath. The shooting creates permanent ripple effects throughout Tariq’s community, among his family, close friends, and acquaintances. Reminiscent of Faulkner’s *As I Lay Dying*, *How It Went Down* eschews any pretense to narrative authority as it relies completely on the inevitable fallibility of first-person narration. Omniscience, Magoon seems to imply, is itself a fiction, and the only truth available to us is the one we are able to construct and live comfortably with.
An undeniably stark and powerful work of fiction, this novel addresses one of the sad realities of racism in contemporary American culture. It examines not only the senseless violence that claims the lives of innocent victims—it also takes an unflinching look at the impact of that violence on the ones left behind to mourn.
Top reviews from other countries
Told from eighteen points of view - from the moment Tariq is shot to just over a week after his death - I found the story to be surprisingly easy to fall into, and think the many perspectives (largely from the community in which Tariq lived - friends, family and more) made for a layered and thought provoking story telling method. I feel like all the narrators had their place in piecing together the story*, and in particular Tyrell (Tariq's best friend), Jennica (a teenage girl who tried to help save Tariq), and Tina (Tariq's little sister) read the strongest to me.
How It Went Down is a prevalent and powerful read; a story that needs to be heard.
*my words of 'piecing together the story' refer to the story written by Kekla Magoon as opposed to the story of Tariq's death, as there is actually no real closure on the story of Tariq's death. I often find a book with no closure, and questions still lingering at the end, to be quite frustrating, however I feel it works well within this book given the complexities of such crimes in real life.