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The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

5 stars
The mesmerizing story of two close brothers who become torn apart by the civil rights tumult in 1968 Chicago. Roland Childs is a civil rights leader and father to Sam and Stick. For as long as they can remember, they have been involved in their father's demonstrations. Sam is the "good son" who always does the expected and Stick has the fiery temper and tests his father's oath of nonviolence. And it is this conflict between father and son that comes between the two brothers. Sam learns that Stick is a member of the Black Panthers Party and thinks he may want to join as well. But Sam is conflicted about many things and is not always definite about what kind of person he wants to be. He cares for Maxie, but she lives in a bad neighborhood and at one point, Sam lies and insults Maxie, and loses her caring and admiration. As Sam continues to question what kind of person he is, who he should give his allegiance to (his father or his brother), events conspire to make Sam question the mythological tale Stick would read to him over and over as a child. What kind of person would he be? Was he the rock or was he the river? A piercing coming of age story of a boy who struggles mightily to become the kind of person both his father and brother envision.

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