Friday, July 10, 2009

The Rock and the River

I finished The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon a few days ago, and have been thinking about it since then. I knew as soon as I finished it that I couldn't write anything about it immediately and just needed to wait a bit longer.

Sam and Stick (Steven) are brothers growing up in Chicago in 1968. Their father, the famous Roland Childs, is good friends with Martin Luther King, Jr., and a part of King's movement toward peacefully achieving equality for African Americans. While this movement seems to work for their father, Stick starts meeting with the Black Panthers, another group looking for equality for African Americans, but not as peacefully as MLK. Sam and Stick face several different episodes in this novel that are not easily resolved, not black or white, right or wrong. Even though peaceful resolutions would be nice, Magoon shows how reality didn't allow for that and how Stick and Sam struggle with finding their own ways to resolve the different issues they face simply because they are black.
I liked that Magoon contrasted the Black Panthers with MLK - showing how their goals were similar but their methods were not. While I am not sure it is historically accurate, I found it interesting, that when it came right down to it both groups did work together and respect each other even though they were not in agreement about the use of weapons. And, while I don't want to spoil the ending, I will just say that I was totally not ready for what happens to Stick. I know I had to take a deep breath while reading. I'm still thinking about it today.
This was such an interesting look at being a young African American male in the 1960s, trying to figure out how to find a place in the world, trying to find a way to make their dreams reality.
I'm still thinking about it two days later and probably will be for a while.
Visit Magoon at her website.

1 comment:

Peacefull Reader said...

I have to read this one...
Love the time period and theme!