X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
Authors: Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
Published: January 6, 2015 by Candlewick Press
GoodReads Summary: Cowritten by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.
I am Malcolm.
I am my father’s son. But to be my father’s son means that they will always come for me.
They will always come for me, and I will always succumb.
Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s nothing but a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer.
But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory when what starts as some small-time hustling quickly spins out of control. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever.
X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.
Review: If you’ve been reading the blog the past few weeks, my love for this book may feel repetitive (and I am not sorry!). Some books just stick to our bones and X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon will remain with me forever. It kept me awake late at night, and I was floored by the captivating writing. This is a very special book and well worth the hype it has received. I plan to use it in my future Methods classes because there are so many themes and topics for discussion. Most texts are written about Malcolm Little’s later life, but this book encapsulates his early years—this restless young man is dissatisfied with his circumstances and attempts to make a name for himself. He does not always make the best choices, but he learns from his many mistakes, and his spirit will inspire readers. I highly recommend this book for all readers. Malcolm has a lot to teach us.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book made me want to sign out Malcolm X’s autobiography from the library. I wondered what else I could learn about him. Teachers might ask students to research Malcolm X’s life. They might explore the ways Malcolm inspired troubled youth and why he made connections with them. Based on this text and others, it seems that many of Malcolm X’s actions may be misrepresented, so it might be wise for teachers to discuss his life, mission, and actions with students. This would allow students to form their own understandings of his later life.
Discussion Questions: If you could change one decision Malcolm made, what would it be? What do you think he should have done differently?; Malcolm may inspire us, but who inspired Malcolm?; How is Malcolm different from his family members? How does this impact him?
We Flagged: “I did what I had to. Didn’t see anything wrong with it. Not a thing” (p. 36).
Read This If You Loved: The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon; How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon; Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles; Audacity by Melanie Crowder; The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
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