the black kids, simon schuster, ya contemporary, goodreads, book blogger, 90s book, black lives matter

The Black Kids By Christina Hammonds Reed: Book Review

The Black Kids is a YA contemporary set in the 1990s. It follows the story of Ashley, a wealthy black teenager who has been sheltered a little too much throughout her life. Also, this book is coming of age and set in the times of Rodney King Riots.

I have received a free copy of this book, however all thoughts and opinions are my own and not biased.

Warning, trigger warnings may contain spoilers

Trigger warnings: mention of suicide/self harm, police brutality, racism, privilege, toxic friendships, micro aggressions, inequality

Introduction To The Black Kids

Set in Los Angeles 1992, Ashley Bennett and her friends are in senior year. With summer being around the corner, their education isn’t the first thing in their minds. But slight changes makes Ashley realise that there are cracks in her life. From being the only black girl in her friendship group, to dealing with riots and her sister who loves to get involved with them, to even the future of a fellow classmate potentially being ruined- Ashley is left to question a lot in her life.

Plot Of The Black Kids

Although this book coveys a lot of strong messages about being young and black, it also tells a story about the true realities of being a teenager. Such as having been friends with the same girls since you were a child and knowing that you’ve all grown into different people. To tensions and problems in the family. And yes, whilst there are times I disagreed with the main character’s actions, that is what made this book so authentic.

The discussions of microaggressions and privilege are strong within this book. I also liked how it explained that racism is a different experience for girls and boys. I found myself highlighting some of my favourite quotes like: “Sometimes it’s hard being a girl, and it’s hard being black. Being both is like carrying a double load, but you’re not supposed to complain about it.”

Although it is slow paced, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The fact that this is a debut too, I’m looking forward to reading more from Reed. This book has proven to be such an educational read and is so important for others to read too. Yes, it’s set in the 90s, but it’s clear there hasn’t been much changes since.

Characters Of The Black Kids

As mentioned, I disagreed with a lot of the characters actions. Despite this I could still relate to Ashley a lot. She’s snarky and fun, but innocent too. Her questioning many relationships in her life is something I am sure a lot of us have done. Although she never felt like it, she’s brave despite her mistakes and she still carries on with her head held high.

I disliked her friends Kimberly, Heather and Courtney. Their comments toward Ashley and her race made me so angry. It made me think that I know people who think it’s okay to say horrible ‘jokes’ about the black community just because they are friends with a black girl.

I enjoyed Lana’s character, a new friend Ashley made and one where she realised she could be herself. I wish we got more of her story for me to be attached to her and relate more. The same goes for LaShawn, he’s so sweet and I wish we got more of his story.

As for Ashley’s family, it was so realistic. Hiding secrets because you don’t want to hurt one another, ignoring problems and parents giving you so much but never the emotional support. I liked how towards the end, everyone knew of their mistakes. Whilst it wasn’t a happy go lucky ending, it was hopeful.

Conclusion Of The Black Kids

Overall, a four star read for me! I learned and related a lot to this book and I’m sure others can too as well. If you’d like more recommendations by Black authors, plus more educational links about Black Lives Matter, I have a post 270+ Books By Black Authors which includes just that. And for more of my reading updates, you can find me on my bookstagram!

I’d love to know your thoughts on this review. If not, what was the last book by a Black author you read?

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