Christina Hammonds Reed’s debut novel, The Black Kids, is set in 1992 but has a timeliness that frequently feels uncanny.
Ashley is a privileged Black teenager dwelling the good existence in Los Angeles. Her dad and mom have tried to protect her from the truth of existence as a Black man or woman in America via enrolling her within the first-class schools, living inside the satisfactory community and giving her the styles of opportunities that are commonly out of attain to the Black scholarship college students at her private college. However, her all-white buddy group continuously reminds her of her Blackness.
When four police officers are acquitted in a tribulation for the thrashing of a Black guy named Rodney King, prompting riots in Ashley’s domestic city, she starts offevolved to recognise that so that you can find her place inside the world, she may want to confront her Blackness and her family’s history—even supposing it method leaving her old lifestyles and pals behind.
Reed addresses experiences commonplace to Black teenagers in both 1992 and 2020 with grace and nuance. Her sentences are searingly beautiful, and her depiction of the breakdown in Ashley’s belief that her privileged lifestyle affords her a sure diploma of protection is raw and relatable. Ashley ought to face what it method to be taken into consideration a so-called “suitable Black man or woman” and grapple with her own culpability in having made some other Black pupil at her college the goal of judgment.
The Black Kids additionally explores what it way to be a very good buddy and how we should take responsibility while we deal with others poorly, even when we haven’t intended to cause harm. The question of whether anybody can surely be deemed a “horrific” man or woman, in preference to an amazing character who has done terrible things, is threaded expertly through the narrative and is sure to prompt difficult however vital self-mirrored image from readers. This is a hanging debut that fearlessly contributes to ongoing discussions of race, justice and power.