Monica Edinger's Reviews > The Rock and the River

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
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's review
Dec 12, 2009

Read in December, 2009

This is an important book about an aspect of the 60s not yet told in children's literature. It joins a slowly growing group of worthy kid books about this time period, sorely overdue and needed. I'm not going to attempt to provide a plot summary as there are plenty elsewhere. There is also no rating because I can't decide about that.

There is some wonderful writing here, vivid imagery, some gorgeous sentences. I loved the block tower. It worked in so many ways both metaphorically and practically. The two brothers are well-drawn and Sam's pain as Stick draws away is very moving. I also found the demonstrations, the scenes with police, jail, and the Panthers remarkable, haunting at times. There is much to consider historically, a very powerful, powerful book.

But I do have some quibbles. I found the family oddly isolated. When bad things happened I found it almost eerie that they had no one else with them, especially the mother. The father worked with Sam on demonstration planning without other advisors around? Now and then a couple were there, but much of the time it seemed not. Sam comes back to find his mother alone after a dreadful family event. She wasn't able to get to the hospital because of no car, but she had no one to call to drive her? No friends from the church or somewhere? Or did no one think to go get her (as it involved her husband)? Similarly, Sam seemed in a bit of a bubble as well, only involved with his family, his brother, and his girlfriend. Did he have no other friends? He also seemed to act and behave way, way older than thirteen for me.

I also found the two female characters rather cardboard. Especially the mother who seemed almost stereotypic in her house and home behaviors. That wasn't necessarily the case in 1968 by any means. (I'm old enough to remember this time period quite vividly and so there were a few things that jarred for me as far as that goes.)

Still I agree with others that it is a very important book with some wonderful writing.

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message 1: by Robinlynn (new)

Robinlynn Smith Would love to know your thoughts on it!

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