Erica's Reviews > Fire in the Streets

Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon
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's review
Sep 02, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult, historical-fiction
Read from August 12 to 14, 2012

Maxie, Patrice, and Emmalee have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Normally when they're together they're talking a mile a minute, but these are not normal times. As they head to the protest, fearing that riots may break out and promising to stay together, they sit in silence. Maxie knows that these protests are important and she'll have to be brave if she wants to be a Black Panther but Patrice and Emmalee would rather be enjoying what's left of the summer. Soon Emmalee and Patrice stop going with Maxie when she volunteers at the Panther office, and when a traitor is discovered in their midst Maxie wonders if there's anyone she can trust anymore. If you suspected someone you loved of betraying everything you believe in, which would you sacrifice?

I enjoyed seeing what happened after The Rock and the River and I particularly liked the perspective that centering the story around a different character provided. Both books are superb but I could relate more to the talkative Maxie and her struggles as she slowly drifts apart from her childhood friends. Maxie is a strong lead and I was completely immersed in her story and eagerly flipping pages to find out what would happen next as she faced astonishingly difficult choices. These decisions would generate a lot of excellent discussions in a reading group or classroom. As with the first novel, the historical setting helped provide me with deeper understanding of the period it was set in and a perspective that is too often missing from history lessons on that era. Maxie's story and voice will stay with me for a long time into the future.

Of course those who enjoyed The Rock and the River will be eager to continue with this novel. While reading both with allow a richer understanding and is something I definitely recommend as both are excellent, this novel stands well on its own and does enough to establish context that reading The Rock and the River first is not necessary. I'd give this to anyone looking for an absorbing historical fiction or for a book to spark rich discussions and debate. Those with an interest in the civil rights movement in particular will find this an excellent read. The novel discusses a dark and difficult era and some violence is necessary to do the story justice, but I would say it's okay for mature middle schoolers. Adult readers will find plenty to sink their teeth into as well.

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