The book takes place in the small suburb of Underhill, a part of town plagued by gangs and violence. The story begins with the shooting and killing of a 16 year old boy named Tariq Johnson, causing an uproar in the community. Tariq Johnson was black, but his killer, Jack Franklin, was white. The police had found Franklin soon after the shooting, but reports say he was released soon after, due to a plea of self-defense. People cry out, screaming of racial prejudice against African-Americans. Everyone’s saying different things about what happened, whether Tariq had a gun or if he didn’t, whether he was a gang member, or if he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The book is narrated by a myriad of people, such as Tyrell, Tom Arlen, Junior, Brick, Noodle, Jennica, Kimberly, and quite a few more, though I think it’d get a little repetitive if I kept going. Either way, the community only knows one thing; Tariq isn’t coming back.
I personally enjoyed this book quite a bit, mainly because of its many narrators, telling their story from their point of view, from what they saw and thought on the day Tariq was shot. Some people say one thing, but the next person you ask says something completely different, and you don’t know what’s true. Another thing that was truly great about this book was its unique writing style, a style that was just so descriptive about everything, even the most minute things. It immerses you in the book, and really makes you feel for the characters.
In my opinion, the most memorable moment in the book is when the whole neighborhood of Underhill organizes a hoodie march in remembrance of Tariq.
Reviewed by Ryan, Grade 6, Tuckahoe Area Library