The Rock and the River

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Modern Age

The Rock and the River
Author: Magoon, Kekla
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1968
Geographic Area: North America
Country: United States
Topics: Civil Rights, Black Panthers
Genre: Fiction, Own Voices
Reading Age: Upper Middle Grade, Young Adult
Format: Novel
Published: 2009

American History > Modern Age > African American History

In this “taut, eloquent first novel” (Booklist, starred review), a young Black boy wrestles with conflicting notions of revolution and family loyalty as he becomes involved with the Black Panthers in 1968 Chicago.

The Time: 1968
The Place: Chicago

For thirteen-year-old Sam, it’s not easy being the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older (and best friend), Stick, begins to drift away from him for no apparent reason. And then it happens: Sam finds something that changes everything forever.

Sam has always had faith in his father, but when he finds literature about the Black Panthers under Stick’s bed, he’s not sure who to believe: his father or his best friend. Suddenly, nothing feels certain anymore.

Sam wants to believe that his father is right: You can effect change without using violence. But as time goes on, Sam grows weary of standing by and watching as his friends and family suffer at the hands of racism in their own community. Sam beings to explore the Panthers with Stick, but soon he’s involved in something far more serious—and more dangerous—than he could have ever predicted. Sam is faced with a difficult decision. Will he follow his father or his brother? His mind or his heart? The rock or the river?

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