Book Review: The Reckoning by Wade Hudson
A powerful contemporary novel about an aspiring 12 year-old filmmaker whose world is turned upside down when his grandfather is slain in a senseless and racist act of violence. From the author of the award-winning memoir, Defiant: Growing Up in the Jim Crow South and co-editor of Recognize! An Anthology Honoring and Amplifying Black Life.
“A powerful reminder to never stop speaking the truth.” –Kirkus Reviews
Lamar can’t wait to start his filmmaking career like his idol Spike Lee. And leave behind his small town of Morton, Louisiana. But for now, Lamar has to learn how to be a filmmaker while getting to know his grandfather.
When Gramps talks about his activism and Black history, Lamar doesn’t think much about it. Times have changed since the old Civil Rights days! Right? He has a white friend named Jeff who wants to be a filmmaker, too, even though Jeff’s parents never let him go to Lamar’s Black neighborhood. But there’s been progress in town. Right?
Then Gramps is killed in a traffic altercation with a white man claiming self-defense. But the Black community knows better: Gramps is another victim of racial violence. Protesters demand justice. So does Lamar. But he is also determined to keep his grandfather’s legacy alive in the only way he knows how: recording a documentary about the fight against injustice.
From the critically acclaimed author and the publisher of Just Us Books, Wade Hudson comes a riveting, timely, and deeply moving story about a young Black filmmaker whose eyes are opened to racial injustice and becomes inspired to follow in his grandfather’s activist footsteps.
The description up there is very thorough. But, of course, it doesn’t capture the vibrancy of the characters nor does it really set up just how segregated Lamar’s town still is. Lamar has a wonderful relationship with his grandpa, a civil rights activist, who helps school not just Lamar but also his friends on the history of racism and segregation in their area and the country in general. Most of Lamar’s friends are Black, but one friend, Jeff, is white. The two have bonded over their love of filmmaking and plan to work on a film together. But any plans Lamar had are derailed by the shocking murder of his grandpa. The white man who killed Gramps said it was in self-defense, that Lamar’s grandpa came at him with a tire iron after a traffic altercation. To Lamar and his family, none of that adds up. But there were apparently no witnesses, so how can they prove what really happened? Eventually, there will be something to help show the real story, and it’s going to come from a very surprising source.
Though focused on a really heavy topic, Hudson addresses this all-too-common storyline at just the right level for his readers. Lamar is surrounded by love and support as he navigates this horrific loss and learns more about the reality of racial injustice.
What I wouldn’t give to see this used as a book club selection or a read aloud at school and then be a fly on the wall for discussions. There is so much to talk about in this deeply affecting look at racism, segregation, activism, and violence.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Publication date: 01/02/2024
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
SLJ Blog Network