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How It Went Down


How It Went Down

When 16-year-old Tariq Johnson is shot on the streets of his Underhill neighborhood, his death is just one more sad ending for a promising youth. The story being told here resembles some of the high profile deaths of black youths that have been covered in the media recently, but the truth is that there are many deaths like Tariq's and multiple perspectives on how things went down.

This is a story about perception and about the way a story can be told many different ways to cast a person as either good or bad

Using multiple voices, including family members, friends, bystanders, gang members, a minister in search of publicity and the owner of the neighborhood store from which Tariq emerged, the author presents conflicting perspectives of the story, which seems to get more complicated with every turn of the page. Even matters like whether or not he was carrying a gun or was a member of the neighborhood gang are disputed. It's not even clear why Jack Franklin, the white man who shot him, behaved as he did. As the neighborhood rallies in support of this young man and in furor at Franklin's being freed without facing any charges for the murder, readers will be given glimpses into how hard it is to avoid the gang life and stick to the straight and narrow when even a casual walk through one's neighborhood means traveling through mean streets. Additionally, they will surely wonder at the difficulty in deriving the truth about what actually happened and how perspectives shape what we think we see.

While I found the use of multiple POVs to tell the story the right technique --- this is a story about perception and about the way a story can be told many different ways to cast a person as either good or bad --- I found that none of the character voices were readily distinguishable. I got the voice of the Reverend pretty well, as well as the shopkeeper, but the voices of the teen boys here all blended together. That was effective on the level of muddying the details of what happened to Tariq, but it was easy for me as a reader to skim over their stories/biases/stakes. I would recommend HOW IT WENT DOWN to people who like story's with different point of views.

Reviewed by Trevor P., Teen Board Member on November 5, 2014

How It Went Down
by Kekla Magoon

  • Publication Date: December 15, 2015
  • Genres: Young Adult 12+
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • ISBN-10: 1250068231
  • ISBN-13: 9781250068231