The Rock and the River

The Rock and the River

by Kekla Magoon

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Winner of the ALA Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe New Talent Award, The Rock and the River was described in a Booklist starred review as a “taut, eloquent first novel [that] will make readers feel what it was like to be young, black, and militant.”

The Time: 1968
The Place: Chicago

For thirteen-year-old Sam it’s not easy being the son of known civil rights activist Roland Childs. Especially when his older (and best friend), Stick, begins to drift away from him for no apparent reason. And then it happens: Sam finds something that changes everything forever.

Sam has always had faith in his father, but when he finds literature about the Black Panthers under Stick’s bed, he’s not sure who to believe: his father or his best friend. Suddenly, nothing feels certain anymore.

Sam wants to believe that his father is right: You can effect change without using violence. But as time goes on, Sam grows weary of standing by and watching as his friends and family suffer at the hands of racism in their own community. Sam beings to explore the Panthers with Stick, but soon he’s involved in something far more serious—and more dangerous—than he could have ever predicted. Sam is faced with a difficult decision. Will he follow his father or his brother? His mind or his heart? The rock or the river?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439153352
Publisher: Aladdin
Publication date: 01/06/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Lexile: HL550L (what's this?)
File size: 297 KB
Age Range: 9 - 14 Years

About the Author

Kekla Magoon has worked with youth-serving nonprofit organizations in New York City and Chicago. She holds an MFA in writing for children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and her first novel, The Rock and the River, won the Coretta Scott King–John Steptoe Award for New Talent. She resides in New York City and you can visit her at

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The Rock and the River 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
scarlett middleton More than 1 year ago
This book really opens your eyes to what was going on and i almost cried.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic Book ! Would Be A Great Book To Learn About The Civil Rights Movement.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is touching i almost cried
catherinegardner2011 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is coming of age novel from a young thirteen year old's eyes during the Civil Rights movement. Sam sees is father die and his older brother join the Black Panthers and he himself struggles to find meaning in the events and discrimination. Although I found this in the children section of the the public library I would not recommend it to anyone under the age of 12.
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sam tried to navigate a confusing time and a rift within his family in 1968 Chicago. His dad, a lawyer and leader in the nonviolent Civil Rights movement, is at odds with his brother, Stick, who joins the Black Panther party. A strongly told story of a young black teenager who is determined to help make the world more just and who is tempted to seek revenge.
GaylDasherSmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Showed a Chicago girl a side of Chicago I missed during the 60s. I have a new appreciation for the Black Panthers.
ccharris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in the late 1960s, during the Civil Rights Movement, this riveting story accurately depicts the real-life challenges that blacks faced. The story involves historical people and groups of the time, including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panthers.Rolland Childs, the father of two teen boys and a follower of MLK, advocates nonviolent resistance in the fight for Civil Rights. His older son becomes very angry after viewing unfair discriminatory practices and joins the Black Panthers. Teen readers today will learn about the injustices and violence of that era and they will also learn about the ideology of the Black Panthers.
59Square on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Magoon has written a novel around MLK Jr.¿s death, but through the eyes of a son of a friend of King¿s. This friend lives in Chicago, and has the same nonviolent beliefs. However, his sons Steven and Sam are beginning to move towards the Black Panthers and their more violent approach. Magoon has created this novel around the facts, but it still feels fairly contemporary for historical fiction. However, the sons don¿t have a lot of personality other than their beliefs ¿ it¿s hard to see what Sam¿s girlfriend sees in him. The parents have more personality than the sons although that may be the natural reaction to having a father with a strong personality and public persona. While I think it may get some attention in awards season, that¿s due to the lack of African American writers of chapter books and not the fact that this is a great book.
taramatchi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What an interesting look at the civil rights movement. It was beautifully written and successfully portrayed the strategies of peaceful protests with the philosophies of the black panthers. Sad, but in the same way hopeful, I enjoyed reading about the wonderful characters that Magoon created. I also finished this book with a better understanding of what life was like for Afrian-Americans living in the "ghetto" during this part of history.
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socraticparenting More than 1 year ago
Set in Chicago in 1968, The Rock and the River is both historical and historic in its honest inquiry into the Civil Rights Movement and racism in the United States. 13-year-old Sam has always followed the rules and done what he’s supposed to do. But what is a young black man to do in a world filled with senseless prejudice and violence? Sam’s father is a civil rights activist devoted to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the principles of nonviolence. Sam’s older brother “Stick” secretly becomes a Black Panther committed to education and service, but not opposed to carrying a gun. Sam sees two police officers brutally beat his friend Bucky and charge him unjustly with assault and resisting arrest. When Dr. King is assassinated and Bucky’s case goes to trial, Sam is caught in the turbulence of change. Should he follow his father’s patient example or join Stick in seeking more immediate justice? While the story itself is fictional, Kekla Magoon includes an Author’s Note explaining the history behind Dr. King’s Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panthers. The racial and ideological conflicts, however, are merely the backdrop as Magoon hones in on the struggle of one middle class teenager unavoidably enmeshed in conflict. The depth of her characters and their relationships will challenge readers to probe their own hearts and minds. There are several violent scenes, but they are necessary to the story and not excessively graphic or sensationalized. Magoon also refrains from offering any oversimplified answers, allowing each of her characters (and empowering her readers) to find their own way. The clarity of language and elegance of style give the novel an element of grace that makes it worth reading more than once. Laurie A. Gray Reprinted from the Christian Library Journal (Vol. XIII, No. 3, August 2009); used with permission.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yum! J3T
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