Saturday, March 20, 2021

Review - The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed



 Title: The Black Kids

Author: Christina Hammonds Reed

Pages: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books

Release Date: 4th August 2020


Blurb from Goodreads:

Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel is a unflinching exploration of race, class, and violence as well as the importance of being true to yourself.

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of high school 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.

But everything changes one afternoon in April, when four police 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.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?


 Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Bookshop

My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Simon & Schuster Children's UK and NetGalley*

It's 1992 and teenager Ashley Bennett is weeks away from graduating high school.

Her home of Los Angeles turns violent when the trial of several police officers, who beat a black man to death, ends with them walking away with no reprimands or time to serve.

As her older sister, Jo, takes to the streets to join in with the riots, Ashley tries to live her life as usual, lounging by the pool with her friends. But Ashley finds herself questioning what it means to be one of the black kids.

I had heard a lot of hype about The Black Kids, so I had high hopes for the novel. However, I ended up not enjoying it as much as I thought I would.

I didn't find Ashley to be a particularly likeable protagonist - she was quite selfish at times and didn't think about how her words or actions would affect other people. However, I did get the feeling that she was kind of lost and didn't really know who she was as a person.

My favourite character was Jo, Ashley's sister. She was willing to fight and stand up for what she believed in and was quite a sad person. I felt that her parents didn't support her as much as they should have.

I also liked Heather and LaShawn.

The plot was quite slow and not much really happened. The book was definitely more focussed on Ashley as a character than the plot, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I lose interest around the middle of the book.

The themes of race, family and friendship were interesting, but there were a few times when the book felt a bit messy to me, like it didn't quite know what it wanted to be.

I found some of the events mentioned enlightening and horrifying.

The writing style wasn't one of my favourites and I found that the scene could jump unexpectedly to a flashback. There were also details that were mentioned that later seemed to be forgotten and weren't elaborated on at all. For example, Ashley was a cheerleader but there weren't any scenes when she actually did any cheering or practising.

I'm disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more, but I can see why other people have liked it more than I did.

Overall, this was a mixed read for me.

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