Light It Up by Kekla Magoon
Told in a series of vignettes from multiple viewpoints, Kekla Magoon’s Light It Up is a powerful, layered story about injustice and strength—as well as an incredible follow-up to the highly acclaimed novel How It Went Down.
A girl walks home from school. She’s tall for her age. She’s wearing her winter coat. Her headphones are in. She’s hurrying.
She never makes it home.
In the aftermath, while law enforcement tries to justify the response, one fact remains: a police officer has shot and killed an unarmed thirteen-year-old girl. The community is thrown into upheaval, leading to unrest, a growing movement to protest the senseless taking of black lives, and the arrival of white supremacist counter demonstrators.
I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner. Too many books, not enough time…
Light It Up is such an important book and I hope everyone reads it soon.
A thirteen year old girl is walking home. She has on a puffy coat, she’s tall, and she has headphones on. A police officer shot her and then law enforcement tried to act like it was justified. She was unarmed and it’s not the first time a black teen had been killed in the same area by police. The whole story after is told by many different points of view. We hear from a witness, the cop, people from the neighborhood, friends of Shae, a local gang leader, kids at a college, etc. There are also tweets and radio transcripts. Everyone is protesting and trying to make sure this doesn’t keep happening. There is a lot of talk about white privilege and how things haven’t changed much for the black community at all. There were protests in the 60’s, but things are still bad. The black kids at college were dealing with a friend/roommate that is white. He wanted to help, but he also didn’t get it. He didn’t realize that he could speed and get pulled over. But if he was speeding with the other two in the car, they would be afraid for their lives.
Most of the people wanted to help change things, but we see a lot of different views on how to go about it. Some want peaceful protests. Others are tired of that since nothing happens. Everyone wants the police officer charged. Except his young daughter that doesn’t understand how her dad is bad.
It’s a hard book to read. There is so much about injustice and how things need to change. White supremacists show up, too. That and some of the racist tweets were just painful. I was angry. I was sad. And I want to learn how to do more to help. There is a lot in this book that mirrors exactly what is going on right now.
I gave this book 5 stars. Thank you to Henry Holt for my review copy.
Warnings for racism, fire, gangs, alcohol, drugs, and an attempt at sexual assault. There is a lot of racist language.
Have you read Light It Up? Have you read anything else by Kekla Magoon?