How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon tells the story of Tariq Johnson who’s a 16 year old black young man who’s shot twice by Jack Franklin a white man. Tariq dies from the gunshot wounds he sustained. This is how the story begins, so this isn’t a spoiler. The story surrounds all the people left behind, some were witnesses to the shooting and some were friends and family of the victim.
The book goes between quite a few points of view. Everyone has a story to tell about Tariq and all of the witnesses seem to have a very different account of exactly what happened. Sound familiar? That’s because you can see this happening more and more in the news. In real life you’re seeing it more as white cops shooting unarmed black men, WHY? Well I could get into a very long winded rant about racism, but I will save that for another time. This book was tough to read, and not because of any sort of quality issue, but because of how easy it is to put a face to Tariq because of how often these situations occur in real life in the USA. The relevance to real life events is what made it such a potent and heart breaking read. The characters’ emotions will take over you and it’s going to grip you and make you think about the story weeks after you finish.
I will say this, I understood the need for the different points of view, I do feel that there were a bit too many of them. At some point, I was confusing a couple of the characters at one point, and while it was easy to clarify by reading back who was who, I still think this could have been done without a handful of the points of view.
All in all though this book tugged at every piece of my soul. I highly recommend it to absolutely everyone. It is strange to me that this book isn’t really talked about much in the book community, but I hope I can get a few of you to read it and that more people will start talking about it. It’s a book that needs to be read.
I give it 4 out of 5 Metalhorns.