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It All Comes Down to This

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  516 ratings  ·  129 reviews
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. ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 11th 2017 by Clarion Books
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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.

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 The family's housekeeper has just been replaced by an older woman, Mrs.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 ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, j, realistic
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 n
Alisha Marie
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 Sophi
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
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 beco
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 jus ...more
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
Set against the backdrop of the 1965 Los Angeles riots, this illuminating novel explores an African-American girl’s awakening to racial division in her community.
Linda Williams Jackson
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic, middle-grade
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. ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
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 e ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
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, Jennife ...more
Lauren Grace Keen
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 m ...more
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
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....) ...more
Sumaya Musse
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Books like It All Comes Down to This are reminders that while it isn’t as bad as before, we need to do better. For a full review, follow the link: ...more
Reading For Sanity
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Read this review and others at ...more
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book, but it was very sad. I recommend this book for anyone who loves historical fiction.
Sep 25, 2019 added it
The character Sophie is like Harry potter because both characters are always adventurous and they will risk their well being for the greater good.
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
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 goo
Cheriee Weichel
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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, he
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing

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 ju
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Ms. Woc Reader
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, black-lead
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
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 an ...more
Leonard Kim
Sep 23, 2017 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Ms Threlkeld
Aug 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 be ...more
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 consequen ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 C
Jennifer Sullivan
A quiet, thoughtful coming of age book that addresses racism and classism, through the lens of 12-year old Sophie, who is from a very comfortable upper middle class family that has just become one of the first black families in their new neighborhood in the LA suburbs in 1965.

Since they had previously lived in majority black middle-class neighborhoods and not in the South, Sophie and her sister Lily have been shielded from racism most of their lives, but now they begin to experience it in their
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
In 1965 Los Angeles, Sophie has moved to a new neighborhood as one of the only African-American families. Her summer is complicated not only by the move but by her sister leaving for college in August and her parent’s marriage becoming rocky. There are also external forces, like a pack of sisters in the new neighborhood who target Sophie and won’t let her swim with them. She does have one good friend, Jennifer, who stands up for Sophie and protests the way the others treat her. But racism is eve ...more
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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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