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The Rock and the River, by Kekia Magoon

June 20, 2011

MagoonIn The Rock and the River, fourteen-year-old Sam Childs has to decide if he wants to be the rock or the river.  Sam lives in Chicago in 1968 during the Civil Rights Movement.  His father, Roland Childs, is a civil rights activist that speaks against violence.  Sam’s brother, Steven, known to Sam as Stick, is in a group called the Black Panthers who believe in self-defense.  Then things start to get rough at home: Steven/Stick moves out, their family friend Bucky get assaulted by cops, and the Civil Rights protests start to get violent.  With the sudden change of events, Sam now realizes he cannot be both the rock and the river, and he has to decide which he would rather be.

Kekla Magoon has a very specific writing style.  She uses lots of sensory details to create a movie in your mind.  Here’s a example of a sentence with great thought feelings and sensory details that put you in the character’s shoes:  “Seeing that gentle smile, beneath all the blood and the sound of the beating, hits me hardest…”  The details in the book really helped create a sense of action.  Since the book is about Sam developing as a character, the details in the book show his movement.  The thoughts and feelings make you feel the same way as the character.  These are some of the great techniques the author uses to make this a engaging title.

Sam, the main character, is very timid through out the book but learns how to be his own person.  Sam is shy around new acquaintances, but he is very close with his brother Steven/Stick.  Sam looks up to Steven as a role model.  He wants to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but does not want to disappoint his father by doing what his brother has done.  He doesn’t want to break up his family even more.  But by the end of the book, Sam finds his own way.  Read the book and find out if Sam ends up as the rock or the river.


Learn more about this title at Amazon.com

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