I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon. This book, set in 1968 Chicago, follows young Sam Childs, caught up in the activism of his Martin Luther King-following parents, while his older brother is being drawn to the activism of the Panthers. Sam is pulled in several directions, more deeply complicated when he and his new girlfriend, Maxie, witness the brutal beating of a dear friend. As he sees the ones he loves being torn apart, Sam must decide whose voice he will follow.
Though the book is written as a historical fiction, it is realistic enough to have you googling the characters. The story includes the death of King, riots, beatings, and consequences of violence and non-violence alike. A greater understanding of both sides of the movement come into view and are better understood, by the time young Sam makes his decision.
Choosing the “right” way, if there WAS a “right” way, was a difficult choice for any young man or woman of the day. Whose voice will Sam listen to? This is a question which not only plagues the children of the 60’s, but the children of the 2020’s as well.
Magoon does a masterful rendering of a difficult moment in America’s history which continues to seep into the pages of today, like blood spilled on the archives of time.