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Too Real to Ignore


Contemporary Urban Fiction


How It Went Down is the story of the murder of Tariq Johnson and the community he lived in. Tariq is a young African American man who is shot and killed by a white man. Both men come from the same community/neighborhood. The author, Kekla Magoon, tells the story of the incident through the eyes of the community. Each chapter is a community member’s account of that day. Some are from those who witnessed the crime, Tariq’s family members, and outsiders who come to the community after the murder. For some members, Tariq was part of a gang, and he was armed with a gun after robbing a local grocer. But others say differently and state that Tariq was picking up groceries for his mother and was armed with nothing more than a Snickers candy bar.


If you are a fan of Jason Reynolds or Angie Thomas then this is a book for you. How It Went Down is an Edward Award and Coretta Scott King Book Award-winning novel that focuses on the effects of racial prejudice. This book lets the reader see how community confusion on events leading to the murder of Tariq and prejudice can change the way a case is handled. Magoon does an excellent job writing about race issues and privilege in a way that encourages empathy and does not overwhelm the reader. Magoon balances her character perspectives, and each voice is distinct from the others. The characters consistently interact with one another as Magoon reveals their complicated relationships, background, and present contexts. How It Went Down is an incredibly powerful book, and I look forward to reading more of Magoon's other novels.

Magoon, K. (2014). How it went down. New York, Henry Holt and Company.

Always support your local library and go there first to find the book. Librarians are there to help you find what you need! But here are a few links to purchase the book, How it Went Down:

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