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How It Went Down

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3.94  ·  Rating details ·  4,640 Ratings  ·  911 Reviews
When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.

In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth.

Tariq's friends, family, and community struggle to make s
...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 21st 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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Popular Answered Questions
Lo Bar Geez,,lets see,,,ALL THE SHOOTINGS OF UNARMED BLACK PEOPLE.
Megan Honestly, it sort of reminds me a lot of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case. But I don't think its based on anyone specifically.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jessica
maya

This book is a beautiful reminder of why I cherish getting older. I've personally attended more funerals than weddings, I lost a three year old cousin to a drive by shooting who was playing outside with his six year older brother. His brother held him in his arms while he took his last breaths. I remember the counseling, the fact he wouldn't talk to anyone and his struggle in school. Let's skip forward to another cousin: he's my nineteen year old cousin and couldn't afford his fall tuition (kep
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Marina
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4-star, own
Tariq Johnson is a fictional African-American teenager.

Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Tamir Rice, and so many more African-American boys are all real.

What do they all have in common? They've been murdered by white men who saw no punishment for the crime.

This is their story. This is meant to be the story of every black neighborhood plagued by poverty and gang violence. The story of the murdered boy's friends, his family, his enemies.

Who was Tariq Johnson? Was he a good student with d
...more
Andrew Hicks
Nov 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I've lived in the suburbs of St. Louis for most of my life. I grew up in Ferguson, which you may know from the news - the national news - every day. Through most of last fall, the shooting death of Michael Brown and the broader issues it raised were at the forefront of my community and the nation's consciousness.

By October, the release month of author Kekla Magoon's How It Went Down - a young-adult novel about an unarmed black teen gunned down on the streets of his neighborhood by a white dud
...more
Laurie Anderson
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant and heart-wrenching book!
Sara
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There are few books that change the lens through which we examine and see our world. This is one of those powerful and important reads.
Ms. Yingling
Very disappointed in this. I know it is meant to be "gritty" and "realistic", but far too many f- words. I love this author and feel she does important work, but if my students can get suspended for using bad language, I shouldn't be handing them books that include it. I feel very strongly about this and therefore refuse to use my limited school budget, which is provided by the taxpayers, to buy books that make a conscious choice to include this kind of language.
Kelly
While I found the use of multiple POVs to tell the story the right technique -- this is a story about perception and about the way a story can be told many different ways to cast a person as either good or bad -- I found that none of the character voices were readily distinguishable. I got the voice of the Reverend pretty well, as well as the shopkeeper, but the voices of the teen boys here all blended together. That was effective on the level of muddying the details of what happened to Tariq, i ...more
Jessica
A compelling look at the repercussions of a young black boy being shot by a white man. Reading like something ripped from the headlines, we see all the angles: family, friends, media, neighbors, everyone with their own idea of what might have happened, everyone with their own idea of who the victim, Tariq, was. Not to mention whether he was a victim at all. There are no answers here. For many of the characters there is no closure, because this isn't a fairy tale, it's real life.

One of the most
...more
Sarah (A Weebish Book Blog)
How It Went Down is not a book I would typically ever read, and I certainly would have never picked it up in audio format if I hadn't been gifted it through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers. While I enjoyed reading the story of the search for T's murder, it definitely wasn't something I would seek out again. For one, it just wasn't my type of book. I'm not a big fan of the gang shooting themed books - no idea why, they just don't appeal to me. Perhaps because I haven't had much experience with the ...more
Beth
The shooting or Tariq Johnson takes place in the fictional urban neighborhood of Underhill. We don't know where Underhill is, and as a result, the reader gets a sense that it could be Everytown, U.S.A. Even so, readers immediately understand that How It Went Down is a book that was inspired by the Trayvon Martin shooting. And yet, despite being written before the most recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, it also shares striking similarities to these stories too.

Told in short, page-tur
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Catherine
People make mistakes. They look at the surface of things and see what they want to.

The details differ from one witness to the next, but the fact remains: Tariq Johnson is shot to death after running an errand for his mother at the neighborhood corner store. Tariq is a young black man; he was shot by a white man named Jack Franklin. The neighborhood is thrust into the national spotlight following Tariq's death, particularly after Jack Franklin is released by police without being charged. As the d
...more
Clare
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Could this story be more relevant and heartbreaking and real and pretty much everything every white person needs to read? Nope, I think not. And the fact that this is a young adult novel makes it all the more painful and all the more necessary. #blacklivesmatter
Lekeisha The Booknerd
I've never finished an audiobook within hours of starting it, unless it was really short. The narrators brought these characters to life. Full RTC!
Jaime Howey
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I selected this novel as the common read for our school's social justice workshop, "Ripped from the Headlines". The events in the novel are all too familiar as we watch similar events play out on news programs and in the press. It was interesting to see the novel focus on the individual stories in a tragedy of racial violence rather than the national story or the story as it is projected to a demographic.

At times in the novel, when I thought I had wrapped up and formulated my own theory of guil
...more
Mel
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I read this book as part of my English inquiry and it really hit me just how cruel the world is. The thing about reading these types of books is that, you know and realise even more that these things may be part of a fictitious story, but they happen to everyday, real people who don't deserve it. This book made me cry multiple times as the injustice of Tariq's death really hit me. It didn't even only affect the family and friends, the whole community felt his death severely. This book has s ...more
Nick Rath
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
My past reviews have been free of spoilers and this one will be no different. With that said, the contents of this book's plot will be vaguely summarized. How It Went Down is a book filled with emotion regarding the outcomes of what happens when a tragic death to a member in a connected community takes place. The plot is told from a variety of perspectives in all of different forms from regular writing to poetry. I certainly found reading a story in this way much smoother and interesting compare ...more
Sarah
“Black lives matter” is a slogan that should not have to exist.

Because we should take for granted that everybody’s life matters—no matter their skin color, religion, ethnicity, hair color, age, health, abilities, addictions, mental status, or beliefs.

But every day, black people—especially black men—are told, implicitly or explicitly, that their lives don’t matter. That they’re expendable. That they can be shot, stifled, hung, stuffed in a gym mat, or die of a broken neck in the back of a police
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Kaitlyn Balsamides
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is so important.

If you loved The Hate You Give and All American Boys, then I'd recommend you get your hands on this one immediately.
Lucie
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like there are so many ways to get a story like this wrong, and I think this did it really well. I appreciated that it was told through multiple characters although there were some characters that I were better developed/you got to know better than others. I thought it did a very good job showing what it was trying to show, that a person is just a person.
One issue I had was the Reverend and his relationship with another character, I thought it was kind of gross and unnecessary. I just did
...more
Mississippi Library Commission
How It Went Down, a 2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Book, begins with sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson's murder. He was shot to death by a white man named Jack Franklin while walking home from the store. This heart-wrenching story is told with multiple POVs by those in Tariq's community. It is a touching, truthful, and thought-provoking novel by Kekla Magoon and it changed the way we look at the world.
Sofie
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It’s scary to go to sleep now.
The sounds in my room are the same.
The look of the dark is the same,
And the glow of my Smurfette nightlight.
But if there are monsters under the bed,
I won’t know about it.
I won’t be safe.
Tariq cast a magic spell to keep them out.
I don’t know how long it will last,
Now that he’s gone.



How it went down is a book about a shooting in American, a young black male, Tariq, is shot by a white man. This book is written in 18 different points of view, all over the community fro
...more
Ginger Robinson
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.8
Melody
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely phenomenal. Nothing that I say will do this book justice because my thoughts are all over the place and I am in just complete awe of Kekla Magoon's storytelling. A story that is fiction but unfortunately plays to real life all too well on every level. This should be required reading everywhere.

In How It Went Down, readers follow various POVs in the neighborhood where Tariq, a young black teenager grew up and was killed on the street in broad daylight by a white man who st
...more
Laurie Gray
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon tells the story of an unarmed black teen in a hoodie shot by a white man on a misguided mission to impose justice. Through a large cast of complex characters, we learn that truth depends not just on who you believe, but on what you believe and how your own experiences and expectations control your perception and interpretation of events.

Magoon begins with a short description of the undisputed facts and moves into the point of view of each of the eye witnesses, t
...more
Ally Doerman
Nov 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult
This is how I feel when I think about the fact that I spent my hard earned money to purchase this book:



I hated every second of this book. It was incredibly confusing to keep the characters separated in my mind because there were what seemed like one hundred different people, some of which had NOTHING to do with the shooting. Not to mention that the characters were incredibly stupid and didn't have any redeeming qualities. The only character I kind of enjoyed reading about was Jennica, and that'
...more
Julie
2.5 stars rounded up. I probably shouldn't have read this so soon after The Hate U Give, because How It Went Down unfortunately pales in comparison. It's still an important address of racism and the shooting of unarmed black teens, but it's more of a muddle.

It's fairly experimental, rotating between some 17 narrators. I can see what Magoon was reaching for -- an unreliable patchwork narration, striving to paint a picture of the different reactions to the event, exploring all the various corners
...more
Taryn Pierson
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
How It Went Down is a revelation. After all the news stories in recent months about unarmed black teenagers being shot and killed by white vigilantes or police officers, it only makes sense that writers, especially of YA fiction, would want to process the complexity of such situations through their craft. But Kekla Magoon doesn't stop at being topically relevant. She tells her story in the most honest and complete way possible: by giving a voice to nearly everyone involved.

Tariq Johnson, a black
...more
Amy's Book Reviews
Many former inmates, later cleared by DNA were victims of false eyewitness accounts. We all view life through a filter of our experiences known and unknown preconceived notions. HOW IT WENT DOWN is a fictional account of a shooting death of an unarmed black boy in a hoodie by a white man who assumed the teenager was an armed thief fleeing capture.

Tariq is not a perfect child, a saint gunned down by a horrible person with nefarious intentions. He has a mouth that sometimes gets him in trouble an
...more
Jillian Heise
This was a tough book to read, but a powerful book. On the surface, it's a story about a black teen boy getting shot by a white man in a city's rough neighborhood, and that man goes free. Deep down its a story about perspectives and perceptions and expectations and preconceived notions and fighting for yourself and trying to do what's right and finding your path and grief and tragedy and race relations and societal commentary. The intertwining of the multiple POVs within the overall story arc of ...more
April Henry
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book reminded me of Shattering Glass or The Truth About Alice, because, like them, it was told by different people described an incident and its aftermath. Extremely timely, since it's about a white man shooting a black man and the demand for justice that follows. I liked that it had a few adult POVs as well as teens.
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How It Went Down 1 3 Apr 20, 2018 06:02AM  
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“I have to make peace, somehow, with my place in all of this. Peach Street is still my home; I can't keep thinking of it as a war zone, or a protest platform, or a deathbed. Put one foot in front of the other, go to work. Read the news, sprinkle liberally with salt. Ring up. Make change. Smile. Chitchat.” 3 likes
“Legislature Votes Down Gun Reform Bill

The timing is strange on that one. They had it in committee for months. All the pressure around Tariq brought it forward this week. If they were going to vote it down, why did they even bother? It's like they went out of the way to say, 'No, what happened here is fine.”
2 likes
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