Kekla Magoon

My latest favorite author is definitely Kekla Magoon. Her new book, Camo Girl (Aladdin, $15.99), came out just a week ago and I’m so excited to recommend it and share it with people.

Ella and Zachariah have been friends for their whole lives. Zachariah, who goes by Z, used to be a lot of fun, but as more and more sad things happened in his life, he retreated into himself, creating a sort of alternative world where he feels safer. Ella insists on sticking by him, even when it means that she loses all her other friends. Z doesn’t seem to mind or even notice that kids make fun of him, but it pains Ella to be left out. Ella is grappling with a lot of difficult issues at the beginning of the book. Not only is she lonely, but her family is always short on money, and the splotchy discoloration of her skin causes her hated nickname, “Camo Girl.” When a new boy named Bailey joins their school, Ella is thrilled to no longer be the only African-American student , and even more thrilled when he seeks out her friendship. Z’s frustration with her new friendship forces Ella to make tough choices about where her loyalties lie and how best to help people she cares about. It’s written in wonderful and simple language, and the plot moves so quickly that it’s hard to put down. This book moved me so much that I not only cried when I read it, but have been thinking about the characters since I finished it.

 

I liked Camo Girl so much that I went searching for Kekla Magoon’s other book to read as well. I was definitely not disappointed; it’s another heart-wrenching, richly written story that will change you. The Rock and the River (Simon & Schuster, $15.99), takes place in Chicago in 1968, at the tail end of the Civil Rights Movement. Thirteen-year-old Sam is the youngest son of a famous activist, and has grown up believing in peaceful protesting and the power of words to change minds. So when Sam’s older brother Stick becomes involved with the Black Panther Movement, an organization known for defending themselves with guns, Sam is shocked and confused. However, as he learns about the group’s beliefs, he realizes how many important things they are doing and that he may want to be a part of it. While tensions between his brother and father build at home, the trial of a friend wrongly accused of assault draws responses from both groups. Full of politics, emotional struggle, and a little bit of romance, Magoon brings to life a particular historical moment in this wonderful book.

–Amy Kane



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~ by Dana on January 14, 2011.

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