BLOG TOUR | ARC BOOK REVIEW: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

TITLE: The Black Kids
AUTHOR: Christina Hammonds Reed
PAGE COUNT: 368 pages
PUBLISHER: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction & Contemporary

SYNOPSIS: Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots.

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Many thank yous to NetGalley, the blog tour team, as well as the publisher and author, for providing me with an eARC!

I am so grateful and elated to be part of the blog tour for The Black Kids! From the moment I first heard about this book, I knew I would truly love it.

The Black Kids was a well-written book as the first few pages immediately transported me to 1992 Los Angeles. With everything going on in the world, it was not difficult to picture the entire story in my mind. I could almost see each character and their expressions, and could easily feel their emotions.

Ashley was a character very different from the others. I understood how she was feeling and what she was thinking and going through from the first moment I met her. She constantly hid her fears behind a façade to portray the life of a normal, privileged and happy teenager. Reed wrote her characteristics so well—it was as if Ashley was part of me. I felt the weight of her thoughts as she tried to blend in with her friends. She constantly had to remind herself to be good and smart but not too smart or too pretty, and to keep out of trouble. 

Many things were tackled in this book: privilege, racism and finding your own identity as a teenager. This book also dealt with many other important subjects whilst teaching the reader that one should stand up for what is right and what matters, even if it has to be against the people you thought of as friends. The Black Kids also did a fantastic job at portraying an authentic teenage life.

The only thing that I would have wanted written differently was the amount of flashbacks we got. Even though I enjoyed getting to know the heroine more through them, the story felt a bit all over the place at times and it took my attention away from the current and more important events.

Overall, I really loved and enjoyed this book as it moved me, helped me see things differently, reminded me of what is important and educated me. I highly recommend this book to everyone!


…sometimes being different means hiding pieces of yourself away so other people’s mean can’t find them.

At first I thought maybe I’d heard her wrong. But I know what that word feels like in my ears, the way my heart beats faster when I hear it.

I’m always saying things are cool when maybe they aren’t. Sometimes I have so much to say that I can’t say anything at all.

All this is to say that I’m a good daughter. A good student. A good friend. A good sister. I don’t have a choice.

When you go out there in the world, you’re not just you, Ashley,” my grandma Opal said one summer while she braided my hair into four long strands that she embellished with yellow ribbons, “you’re all of us, your family, black folks. You have to be better than those white kids around you. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.”

Seems sometimes like growing older means the ground beneath you starts shake and you keep trying to find the right structures to hide under, the right people to huddle with, the right roots.

We all sew a few sequins on our stories to make them shine brighter.

When you’ve known somebody too long, it’s like they’re talking to a version of you from years ago, even though you’ve updated all your software. You’re the same program, except also you’re not.

We have to walk around being perfect all the time just to be seen as human. Don’t you ever get tired of being a symbol? Don’t you ever just want to be human?”


Christina Hammonds Reed holds an MFA in Film and Television Production from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Her short fiction has previously appeared in the Santa Monica Review. She lives in Hermosa Beach, CA.


Keep reading and never stop telling stories.

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