A frightening and realistic story about the realities of racism, poverty and injustice in the Obama era.


An African-American teen accused of murder experiences the terror of the court system while his mother and his lawyers pursue an unusual argument for justice.

It’s only 22 days into the New Year as this desperate novel begins, and there have already been 29 murders in Philadelphia. Cush (Tattered Bonds, 2006) draws on her experience in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to paint a frightening picture of the awful day-to-day realities faced by impoverished children accused of crimes. The child at issue here is 15-year-old Malik Williams, who finds himself violently slammed to the ground by a white police officer and charged with the murder of another black kid; he's to be tried as an adult for a crime he did not commit. His mother, Janae, is a cafeteria worker and a woman of faith who lacks the resources to help her only child. She’s suspicious when approached by Roger Whitford, a human rights attorney who wants to spark a national debate over Malik’s defense. “I believe we can make a solid argument that African-American boys ought to be deemed legally endangered,” he tells a startled Janae. “Their very lives are threatened with extinction, or at least any meaningful existence, and thereby ought to be afforded certain protections based on their classification as such.” It’s a bold and risky defense, but Janae is running out of options. Buoyed by the genius of Calvin Moore, an ambitious defense attorney on loan from a high-end firm, Malik’s defenders navigate the hostile and dangerous ground between the justice system, the media and the American public. There’s not much mystery—Malik’s defense eventually becomes a case of figuring out who really committed the crime—but Cush makes a passionate argument for the defense of young men whose only crimes were being born black in America.

A frightening and realistic story about the realities of racism, poverty and injustice in the Obama era.

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-231623-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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