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It All Comes Down to This

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It’s 1965, Los Angeles. All twelve-year-old Sophie wants to do is write her book, star in the community play, and hang out with her friend Jennifer. But she’s the new black kid in a nearly all-white neighborhood; her beloved sister, Lily, is going away to college soon; and her parents’ marriage is rocky. There’s also her family’s new, disapproving housekeeper to deal with. When riots erupt in nearby Watts and a friend is unfairly arrested, Sophie learns that life—and her own place in it—is even more complicated than she’d once thought. 

      Leavened with gentle humor, this story is perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia.

368 pages, Hardcover

First published July 11, 2017

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About the author

Karen English

47 books56 followers
Karen English is a Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winner and the author of the Nikki and Deja and The Carver Chronicles series. Her novels have been praised for their accessible writing, authentic characters, and satisfying storylines. She is a former elementary school teacher and lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 144 reviews
Profile Image for Amy.
844 reviews45 followers
November 25, 2017
I know I’ve been watching too many back episodes of Survivor when I read this book and hear TV host Jeff Probst in my head shouting, “Now THIS is how you write a book for MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS!”


Los Angeles, 1965: It’s the summer before Sophie’s ninth grade year at a new school and the summer before her older sister, Lily, is supposed to go off to college at Spelman. Sophie is off having adventures with her friend Jennifer and Lily falls in love with their housekeeper’s son, Nathan.

This story begins as a slow celebration of summertime and makes shifts towards deeper and darker content, including several instances where Sophie is excluded on account of being black and where the sisters are torn between their parents’ respectability politics and Nathan’s radical politics.


This book seesaws between middle grades and YA in the most delicious of ways. Sometimes middle grades stories with dark and emotional content trot out unrealistically optimistic endings. I’m so thrilled that Karen English didn’t do that for the story or for the characters. She gives the reader reasons to be optimistic for Lily and for Sophie by the end of the story, but she by no means assumes that their issues are going to disappear.

On the other hand, the story is told from Sophie’s point of view, and Sophie’s concerns are more the stuff of middle grades (friendships, pool parties, auditioning for the part), so reader has Sophie as a layer to Lily’s more mature social and sexual politics. This layer is helpful when, for example, Sophie discovers her father’s infidelity, and we have the opportunity to see Sophie’s reactions and Lily’s reactions separately. Sophie doesn’t understand why her father would have a girlfriend who isn’t as pretty as her mother is, while Lily seems more in touch with her parents’ relationship dynamics. Older readers will probably “read” and relate more to Lily’s story, and readers who aren’t ready for that part will probably connect more to Sophie.

Issues with comprehension

I must admit that I found the first 100 pages or so on the slow side. I even thought about dropping the book because I was stuck in a rut, but one of my student encouraged me to keep reading. Reader patience is not one of my stronger suits, and at 350 pages this book is definitely paced more like a YA than a middle grades book.

I wouldn’t necessarily call this historical fiction even though it’s set in 1965 but rather a period piece because the concerns, issues and relationships are so contemporary. Students might find some of the period details strange, like when Lily takes the telephone into the bathroom for privacy.

At the same time, though, these period details reveal in what ways the kids of the 1960s had more freedom and flexibility. Without constant contact between parents and teens parents had to take the word of teens about where they were going, who they were hanging out with, and when they would be home. That amount of freedom seems absolutely refreshing by today’s standards.

Recommended for

Grades 5-9 readers who are interested by Dear Martin and The Hate U Give but might not be emotionally ready for either story; reads well with Renee Watson’s Piecing Me Together.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.2k reviews277 followers
April 12, 2018
Summer is a time for relaxing, but for twelve--almost thirteen--year-old Sophie, it is also a time for saying goodbye to some things that are familiar and trying some new ones. The family's housekeeper has just been replaced by an older woman, Mrs. Baylor, who seems to judge the family for whom she works. Sophie is fully aware that her older sister, Lily, will soon be leaving Los Angeles for Atlanta where she plans to attend Spelman College. Sophie looks up to Lily since she's far more glamorous than Sophie is, and her skin is lighter and her hair more manageable than Sophie's. There are even references to "good" hair and the racism that exists between lighter and darker African-Americans. Since the story is set in 1965, the author includes all sorts of pitch-perfect cultural references to music, hairstyles, and happenings as well as political events, and there are also abundant references to how something looks like to outsiders compared to how it really is. Because Sophie's family is "colored," the term deemed appropriate in those times, she faces prejudice from some of her neighbors who don't want her swimming in their pool, but she also finds an ally in Jennifer, a friendly white girl who also wants to be an actress like Sophie dreams of becoming. As Sophie works on the stories she plans to write, practices lines for an audition, she also uncovers a secret about her father that disappoints her, and watches her sister fall in novel with Nathan, Mrs. Baylor's college age son. Lily is a rebel, and often goes against her mother's wishes, and at first it isn't clear if she is simply toying with Nathan or if her feelings for him are real. Their relationship plays out against the backdrop of racial profiling on the part of police officers who stop Nathan when they see him driving in a car with Lily and mistake her for a white woman. The riots in Watts also add drama to the story, raising questions for Sophie about fairness and how the media chooses to cover--or ignore or spin--certain events. While there were some parts of the book that might not have added a lot to the main story--such as the dinner with the Mansfields--they provided some insight into what Sophie's parents must contend with when they socialize, even with people of color since Mrs. Mansfield is always trying to one up everyone. While some reviewers found the story to be slow in parts, I did not. I found it completely compelling and refreshingly honest, covering many types of prejudices and assumptions that are rarely mentioned in books for adults, much less middle graders or intermediate readers as this one is. So vivid are the descriptions of Watts that I had to go online to look at some photographs, which were just as shocking as the book might lead one to believe. Sophie is a wonderful protagonist, partly because she is her own person with her own unique quirks, but also because she never seems to give up hope that things will change, even if only on a personal level. The microaggressions she experiences--being asked about a missing wallet, overlooked for a part in a play, asked to explain why black folks are so violent--all play a part in her coming of age and making choices about how to live her life.
Profile Image for Raina.
1,604 reviews128 followers
October 12, 2018
Sophie is lonely. She doesn't like the new housekeeper, it's the summer before her sister leaves for college, her parents are hardly ever home, and she only has one friend.
This would all be bad enough, but many of the kids in the neighborhood are determined to never become her friend because of the color of her skin.

English's #ownvoices middle grade historical fiction novel seems like it may be a fictionalized memory of her own life. The setting is 1965 California. Skin-color-based micro- and not-so-micro-aggressions hit Sophie and her family from all sides. She's also watching her sister's developing relationship with the housekeeper's son. Class-based issues are focused on less than the racially-charged ones, but are present, nonetheless. Don't be fooled by the cover - tennis is only played in one scene - this isn't a sports book in any way, shape, or form.

I'm planning to take this out to local middle schools in January 2019.
Racial slurs do appear in the text.
Profile Image for Rachel Oyedeji.
30 reviews
January 22, 2022
A cute short read about what segregation in CA during the 60's. Pretty good, but not as good as expected. I would've liked to read about sophie going to school and seeing how she dealt with that.
Profile Image for Alisha Marie.
871 reviews81 followers
July 11, 2017
It All Comes Down to This is a really great read. Despite the fact that there's not much plot action happening, I've always enjoyed coming-of-age stories and this one is really well done.

The Good: I absolutely adored the relationship between Sophie and Lily. I'm a sucker for a good sister relationship and this one hit all the spots. You could clearly see the affection that Lily and Sophie have for one another. I also found that a lot of parts in the story gave me food for thought. Like how Sophie's mother differentiated herself from other blacks because she was lighter skinned and therefore viewed herself as being better than darker blacks. Or how she didn't like her children to use the word "black" to describe themselves. Even the minor part of a minor character describing herself as Spanish and not Mexican and using that as an excuse to not play with Sophie was eye-opening.

The Eh: Seeing as how It All Comes Down to This doesn't really have a tight plot, some of it might seem to not flow so well. It does meander a bit and readers who don't like that might not be to into this book. Again, as someone who does like coming of age stories, I didn't mind this too much, but it was still noticeable.

In the end, I highly recommend It All Comes Down to This. It was a really great, quick read and I loved being inside of Sophie's head. Again, it gave me much food for thought. Definitely one for everyone to pick up. (Oh and if you don't like Middle Grade novels, but do like YA, I would still pick this up because this kind of felt like YA-lite to me.)
Profile Image for Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*.
6,001 reviews193 followers
April 3, 2018
English, Karen It All Comes Down to This, 355 pages. Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2017. $16.99. Language: PG (racial slurs), Mature Content: PG, Violence: PG

12-year-old Sophie has just moved to an all-white upper middle class neighborhood in Los Angeles. Her mother has rejected her own black identity and sheltered Sophie from the reality of being black in 1965. Sophie faces ridicule and prejudice from the white girls in her neighborhood. Luckily, one girl stands up for her and becomes her best friend. But when Sophie clearly performs the best in the theatre audition and still doesn’t get the part, she realizes the severity of the injustice. Her fears are further confirmed when her sister’s boyfriend is falsely arrested in the Watts riots. It’s not just the police that is offended by his dark African skin. Her own light-skinned mother forbids her sister’s budding romance.

Though not my favorite 1960s civil rights story, it does cover a lot of issues. Advantage of light brown skin. Police prejudice. Neighborhood segregation. Watts Riots. Sophie must deal with a lot of rejection and stereotyping. Her own mother even tries to reject her culture. The childhood perspective feels very authentic. I can imagine that this is exactly how it was for a black girl in the 60s. It’s a little on the long side since there is no mystery or adventure to keep things moving, but if you need more historical fiction covering civil rights, then this is a good book to consider.

MS – OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Valerie McEnroe, Media Specialist
Profile Image for Laura.
2,765 reviews82 followers
February 7, 2017
I was intrigued by this book because Sophie is growing up in L.A. about the same time that I was growing up in L.A. There are two differences though, she is living in a different part of L.A. and she is black, or as she would say "colored". She lives in an all white neighborhood, but is sort of OK with that. I lived in a mostly white neighborhood, though we had one black neighbor. Our school was a mix of Chinese, White and Hispanic kids. She has a best friend who is white, and they get along just fine. It is the rest of the neighborhood that treats her poorly.

It is an interesting read. I can picture the places she goes to, and feel as though I experienced the same things, with piano lessons, and playing tennis, but I couldn't be in her shoes of being followed around by a clerk because she is black. I could not be the only one in the room accused of stealing, though there are others around. I could not know what it is like to visit the Watts Riots while they are going on, and fear that the police will come after you. But Sophie is there to tell her story so that you can.

Very good narrative, good descrptions of life in the 1960s. This would be a good book to read to get inside the head of a young black girl, to see how she feels and thinks. And you know what? She feels and thinks just as much, with as much pain, as other young girls of different skin colors and backgrounds. She suffers just as much.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
Profile Image for Linda Jackson.
Author 0 books72 followers
June 15, 2020
I can't believe I never wrote a review for this book. It was one of my favorite books of 2017 and still remains a favorite. I LOVE Sophia and I love this story. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Brittany.
1,051 reviews17 followers
July 20, 2017
This is a classic coming-of-age story as 12-almost-13-year-old Sophie navigates finding and losing friends, the eventual loss of her sister to college and the tumultuous relationship of her parents. Set in the 1960s in a primarily white, upper-middle-class neighborhood, Sophie and her family are one of the only black families to live in this part of town. Sophie is continually experiencing many degrees of prejudice in varying forms and from adults and kids alike. It's heartbreaking to read and eye-opening that racism is a learned behavior and the harsh reality of the implications of that. The "Nevertheless She Persisted" mantra is perfect for Sophie as she learns she can stick up for herself and she will survive and keep persisting. A great recommendation for middle grades seeking books about empathy and insight into growing up in a different time.
1 review
October 24, 2018
It all comes down to this by Karen English has been one of the most interesting books i have read. The main character is Sophia, she has had many problems in her life with family and her race. The book made me feel stressed and mad many times in the story for many reasons. My favorite part in the book was when her, her friend Jennifer and Jennifer's mom went to eat, while they were there both girls went to go get a toy and a woman that worked there accused her of something she didn't do, Jennifer's mom talked back to the lady and made her feel bad.
I did have somethings in common with Sophia. In a part of the story he sister used to sneak out and she thought Sophia never knew, I went through the same thing with my older sister. My least favorite thing in the book is how many people are judged by their race and there were many secrets kept between everyone. My favorite passage in the book was when Sophia helped her sister in something important to her.
I would not change anything in the book in my opinion. The book did seem realistic because all these things could actually happen in real life and might actually be happening to some people around the world. This book was very interesting because I mostly do not pick this type of book or the genre. It was a good experience and I enjoyed the book. I would recommend this book to people who like drama in their books
Profile Image for Lauren Grace Keen.
76 reviews5 followers
November 25, 2017
This book took me a bit to get into because the plot is very slow-moving. I did love the themes and overall message of the book. As a white middle-class woman, I cannot understand what our Black neighbors go through, but Karen English does a great job of putting the reader into the story. Though I have not endured everything that Sophie went through, I do remember going through the changes of childhood: friendship, betrayal, feeling left out, parental marriage issues, etc. Those aspects helped make Sophie more relatable to me and also helped me to empathize with her.
170 reviews
July 31, 2017
It was really good- the only thing I'm torn over is its classification. I think it is great for the age of the main character (around 13 years old, freshman) but that creates a bit of a conflict: maybe too young for the average YA shelf, maybe too old for the average juvenile fiction shelf. Personally I'm leaning more towards YA... the story was challenging at some points (a bit slow....)
Profile Image for Caroline.
17 reviews
February 28, 2018
This was a great book, but it was very sad. I recommend this book for anyone who loves historical fiction.
Profile Image for Andrew.
97 reviews8 followers
September 26, 2019
The character Sophie is like Harry potter because both characters are always adventurous and they will risk their well being for the greater good.
Profile Image for Ca1t!Y#.
238 reviews19 followers
April 1, 2020
I really enjoyed this book. There are some parts you don't expect, but I think that makes it better. I recommend this book to people who read and liked the book Blended by Sharon M. Draper.
Profile Image for Patricia.
2,316 reviews43 followers
November 22, 2017
Read for Librarian Book Group
Once you get past the forgettable title, you will find a nice little gem of a historical fiction book.  1960s Los Angeles is our setting, and Sophie is getting used to her new neighborhood. Her family is black, and there aren't many other black kids in the neighborhood. It's summer and  Sophie busies herself with writing a book, making a friend or two, keeping track of her sister's antics and trying out for a play.  It's not the most plot-driven novel, but it's a good glimpse into a specific experience of the past.
Profile Image for Cheriee Weichel.
2,472 reviews34 followers
June 24, 2017
I read this book through Netgalley. It will be published on July 11, 2017. Preorder your copy now.

I am fascinated by historical fiction that takes place in my lifetime. On the one hand, it takes me back to my youth where I can re experience the events I lived through. On the other, novels like this show me this time through the eyes of someone who inhabited a vastly different reality. Because of this, they expand my perceptions so that I experience and understand my own history anew.

Sophie, her older sister, Lily, and their parents live in Los Angeles in 1965. They are a well to do black family who have just moved into a primarily white neighbourhood. Their parent's relationship is tenuous. Both are well educated professionals. Their absent, philandering father is a defence attorney, and their controlling mother runs an art gallery. Sophie has a lot to deal with as she anticipates Lily leaving at the end of the summer to go away to college.

The story begins with the family hiring a new housekeeper, Mrs Baylor. Sophie and Mrs Baylor don't hit it off. Sophie misses their previous housekeeper while Mrs Baylor assumes that Sophie thinks she is better than her because her skin is lighter.

Skin color, and shades of color play a significant role in this novel. Lily passes as white and manages to get a job in a salon that is reputed to not hire colored people. When Lily begins a relationship with Nathan, Mrs Baylor's son, their mother does not approve. She claims that it is because they are too different, but the reality is that Nathan, who is a student at Berkeley, has darker skin. The two continue a clandestine relationship that Sophie keeps secret. Nathan introduces the girls, both advertently and inadvertently, to new ways of looking at themselves in relation to the white world around them. The backdrop of the Watts Riots show them that no matter how well off they are, and where they live, they are not immune to the racism that surrounds them.

Sophie's best friend, Jennifer, is a white girl who lives across the street. She sticks up for Sophie when a group of other white girls reveal their racism. When Jennifer befriends one of these girls, Sophie begins to understand that Jennifer really doesn't understand what life is like for her.

Karen English has created a brilliant cast of complex characters. They are fully realized, nuanced people, flaws and all. She manages to highlight their humanity, no matter what happens. I appreciate that Jennifer and her family try hard to not see skin color as an issue, but that we also understand how impossible this is. It's only in the past few years that I have come to see my own ignorance in claiming to not see this difference.

This is an important coming of age novel. Sophie has a lot to come to terms with: who she is and wants to be, her changing family circumstances, her sister leaving home, and what it means to her be a person of colour. At the same time, it's sure to educate and open the eyes of readers as well.

The best books are those that transform the way you see the world.
This is one of those.
It begs to be paired with The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
16 reviews1 follower
February 26, 2017

I received an ARC from NetGalley called 'It All Comes Down to This' by Karen English, and here is my unbiased review.
I'm not sure if the author intended this story to pull on the heartstrings, but I couldn't help but have a little cry at the end of it. Possibly it is a cry for having to leave Sophie to continue her life and not know what happens to her next , or maybe its a cry for Sophie, knowing I leave her to continue her struggles with the prejudice she receives. Who knows, but I'm crying just the same, which is wonderful! I love a book that makes me cry..

I really warmed to Sophie as a character.The author writes in first person, so we understand everything that Sophie is feeling and thinking. Set in 1965, I briefly studied this period of the black civil rights movement in America, so I can understand this period of prejudice history. Sophie takes lots of hits and scrapes, and it made me so sad that she 'accepts' this as normal and is constantly up against it, living in a mostly white neighbourhood. I find myself keep thinking, 'Why!' every time some new slight against her is raised, 'But she is such a good girl!'. Echoed in Mrs Baylor's observation, which also made me blub!

Sophie tries so hard in everything she does -writing, school, friendship. She puts a lot into her relationships especially with her sister Lily, and her only friend Jennifer. She has a thick shell and takes all the knocks along the way, which sometimes boil over into a little release of a cry, before she gets back up and goes on again. There is romance but seen through Sophie's eyes, her troubled sisters relationship with her boyfriend. Sophie lives her life somewhat vicariously through her sister, especially in that of relationships, where she herself, rarely speaks to any boys.

I really enjoyed this book, it fired up so much emotion in me. It made me cross at peoples off handed remarks to Sophie, and made me want to give this girl a big hug. This is a 'coming of age' story, which young adults will love. An excellent novel for parents to share with their children, as there is lots to talk about with them here. I was literally hooked from the first page and I knew I would like this book. The author has a way of inserting you into Sophie's life straight away and sweeping you away immersed until the end. The characters are fantastic, and you really feel you know each one.

I would like to know what happens next to Sophie, but I feel this book works very well as a single book. One which could be read many times..

Profile Image for Annie.
1,391 reviews18 followers
December 28, 2017
This is the kind of historical fiction book where not a lot really happens, but the characters and setting are nonetheless engrossing. Sophie is 12 and living in Los Angeles in 1965. She's the darker and nerdier younger sister in an upper-class African-American family (her father is a lawyer, her mother works in an art gallery) that has recently moved to an all-white neighborhood. Sophie's parents' marriage is on the rocks, her beautiful older sister has a job in a boutique for the summer before she goes off to college, her white best friend is off at camp and vacations for chunks of the summer, and the Jamaican-American maid seems to hate her, so Sophie spends a lot of time alone practicing for the community play tryouts and planning out the books she wants to write.

A lot of this book is about race in Los Angeles (and the United States) in the 1960s—what it would have been like to be a black kid in a white neighborhood dealing with racism from kids and families, colorism and racial politics within the black community, emerging generational differences about race, the intersection between race and class. But this is also the summer of the Watts riots, and that is a major focal point of the end of this book.

This was a really well done and interesting book. I wanted a bit more plot and action, but there was plenty in the way of setting and ideas to fill the 300+ pages.

Profile Image for Ms. Woc Reader.
532 reviews707 followers
February 15, 2017
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was a great read. Though I did not grow up in the time period Sophie did many of the issues dealt with in this novel resonate today. I identified with her feelings of being an outsider growing up in a mostly white neighborhood. As someone who went to mostly white schools for 12 years I often felt the way she did. There were a couple of times her experiences moved me to tears. I enjoyed reading about Sophie and her sister Lily's experiences with the other girls in the neighborhood and well as the news of the riots. Since it does deal with complex issues like status, race, and affairs I'd recommend it to girls 13 and up.
Profile Image for Meg.
1,623 reviews11 followers
September 21, 2018
This was a delightful coming of age book. It really had a unique voice from the perspective of a 12 year old “light colored”black girl living in upper-middle class LA with a live in black housekeeper. It was enlightening to see how she learned that there were different levels of prejudice from not only whites but also from those within her own race. She had to deal with those pressures in addition to the usual tween anxieties of starting school, making friends, fitting in, etc. I loved Sophie and Mrs. Baylor.
439 reviews17 followers
September 24, 2017
3.5 stars. Well-written but the impact is a little diffuse. Maybe it's a little too long and perhaps it was somewhat less effective told from Sophia's perspective as she is, through no fault of her own, the most passive character in the book and her story less compelling, maybe even in her mind and the author's mind, than the other characters' especially Lily and Nathan.
Profile Image for Sarah  Threlkeld.
4,374 reviews16 followers
August 25, 2017
A snapshot of one girl's life in CA in 1965. Nothing particularly exciting happens, but it's still engaging and thought-provoking. Better for middle school, as it uses the word "whore" several times, and deals with some pretty heavy subjects.
1 review
December 11, 2019
This book review is based upon the book “It All Comes Down to This” published by Clarion Books in 2017 and written by Karen English, who also wrote the highly successful “Nikki and Deja” series. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and reading about the day to day lifestyle of a colored teenager named Sophie. If you are interested in heartfelt novels, I highly recommend the book “It All Comes Down to This” because of the relatable characters and because of its truthful depiction of the relationship between black and white people in the 1960s.
This novel begins by introducing the characters, Sophie, her sister Lily, her mom and dad, and her best friend Jennifer who all live in sunny Los Angeles California. The book takes place in the summer of 1965 where many American citizens and even law enforcement were still prejudiced against black people. At the beginning of the story, Sophie is still new and is the first colored family to move into the neighborhood. Then the author, Karen English writes about how Sophie, a shy, but sweet girl who struggled to make friends just because of her skin color. However, she has one friend named Jennifer who is a fearless, young white girl and is the same age as Sophie. It is truly amazing to read about how Jennifer would stick up for Sophie in situations where Sophie was treated unfairly because she is African American. Jennifer and Sophie have lots of things in common such as, an interest in plays and books. Throughout this novel, Sophie and her assertive sister Lilly constantly have to witness their mom and dad’s relationship fall apart. As all this is going on, police officers begin to treat black people more unfairly than normal, causing many riots to break out. Throughout all of this, Sophie and her sister remain as close as possible and work together to get through this rough patch of their life.
Another one of the reasons that I love this book, is that the author, Karen English helps the reader to understand how hard the life of a colored family was by using engaging characters. By doing this the reader will begin to really understand how unjust racism is. For instance, Sophie’s friend Jennifer, most people can relate to her because if their friend was being treated unjustly, they would most likely stick up for their friend no matter what, just like Jennifer does. For example on page 25, when a few white girls refuse to play with Sophie because she’s black, Jennifer sticks up for her as any good friend would. “ ‘But you can stay, I said,’ Diedre repeated. Jennifer shook her head. ‘ I’m not staying if Sophie can’t.”. Another character that is relatable is the main character, Sophie. Sophie is a very shy girl but is very sweet once you get to know her, which I think is the case for many teenagers today. The way Karen English makes her characters relatable is very impressive and important with teenage book readers today.
Karen English brilliantly displays the racial tensions of the 1960s by creating relatable characters and depicting the daily struggles of a twelve-year-old girl named Sophie and her family in a mostly all-white community. Sophie is an extremely relatable character because she just wants to fit in and have as many friends as possible just like teenagers today. If I were to choose between this novel to a more well-know novel such as “Stamped from the Beginning” written by Ibram X. Kendi, a book that goes into depth about where racism came from, I would pick “It all Comes Down to This specifically because of how engaging the characters are and how truthful the story is. Overall, I would absolutely give this book a strong five out of five stars. The injustices that Sophie has endured during this book really pull on your heartstrings as you get a taste of how hard her life was as an African American teenager in the 1960s.

Profile Image for Lynn.
3,220 reviews57 followers
July 24, 2017
I rad another book by Karen English that was for younger kids; about late 1st, 2nd grade and wrote a a negative review because it was so sparse and to me uninteresting. It was a beginning reader's book about skateboarding and pretty thin. Now I feel guilty, the novel, It All Comes Down To This is for 5-7 graders and is so well written and a beautiful story. It takes place in 1965 and is about a well off African-American family who dares to move into a white neighborhood and suffers the consequences of racism in a quiet passive way. The parents are professionals who seem to be able to see their old friends and are willing to meet new people. But the daughters have limited friends in school because they are "colored" and don't always get chosen for extra-curricular activities even though they play instruments and participate in drama. The eldest daughter Lily is expected to attend a Negro College, Spellman in the Fall although it is not her first choice because her mother is intent that she attend. Lily is also very light skinned and is mistaken for a white girl often which causes trouble for her and those around her. Their housekeeper has a son, Nathan, who is also a star student and is attending UC Berkley when he leaves in September. Lily and Nathan fall in love just when Mother moves out because father is dating another woman and has been rather open about his escapes in the town. The two daughters are left to fend for themselves mostly and expected to make good choices. The 14 year old goes through her first period alone without a parent to talk to. What I admired in this novel is how Karen French made the setting believable, I have seen numerous TV shows, movies and novels lately try to set themselves in the 60s and 70s by dropping names, places and famous happenings which sounds awkward and bothersome. The setting is well integrated into the story as the story is well integrated in setting. The characters are well developed and the events seem realistic too. There aren't many YA novels like this anymore. Many seem to be written according to a pattern that occurs over and over again and uses stilted language to give a lower lexile score. This novel feels natural like the author wasn't told to write for a lower reading score or use certain phrases or name drop to sound cool. It really good.
Profile Image for Becky.
284 reviews1 follower
April 28, 2018
I selected this book knowing only that it was a piece of historical fiction at a high school library. The books were wrapped in grocery bag paper, which was a fun way to experience a new book.

The book is very well written. I started one day in February, but then I got busy and had to wait until April to pick it back up. I read the book in two days. For a teen fiction book, it was very interesting and true-to-life (I work with teenagers.). The book is about racism that happened in the 1960s in California, family drama, and coming-of-age.

The main character is Sophie (Sophia), who is 12-years-old. She has some experiences with racism from other teenage girls in her upper-class mixed neighborhood. Sohpie's family is light, and the sister is able to pass for white, and Sophie learns some lessons from her sister's experiences, too. The family has a maid, Mrs. Baylor, who mothers Sophie a bit and opens up to Sophie about part of her past.

This book is really good historically, too. Outside of the racism, it mentions the negro owned signs, "I am a blood brother" sign, Vietnam, riots in LA, and Spelman College. Although this book was at a high school, the reading level is 680 (lexile), which is aimed at 4th graders. That tells you that the content is PG and suitable for all ages. As an adult I liked the book, so it won't bore an older student who struggles with reading.

Overall, this is a great book for all kids to read. It offers a perspective that is often lacking in education. People who live in areas that are predominantly white would benefit from reading this book because it offers a glimpse of understanding from the non-white perspective. This book might challenge a black reader, too. How might you view rioting, looting, and destruction of a neighborhood? Do you view it as getting attention to more important issues, as Nathan viewed it, or do you see it from Nina LaBranche's perspective, that it is stupid? They're important issues that are still alive today. It's a book you should read if you have even only an once of interest in the race history of our nation.
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