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How it Went Down

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about the book

how it went down


Only a few facts are known about the death of black teenager Tariq Johnson. At approximately 5:30 P.M. on June 2, Tariq is shot twice in the torso with a nine-millimeter gun. A white gang member, Jack Franklin, is present when Tariq is shot and flees the scene. The police arrive at 5:37 P.M., and EMTs pronounce Tariq dead at 6:02 P.M. At 5:56 P.M., Jack is pulled over and apprehended about four miles away from the shooting. A recently fired nine-millimeter handgun is found in the backseat of his borrowed car.

Soon, Jack claims self-defense and is released by the police, and Tariq’s community explodes into an upheaval.

Everyone has something to say about the shooting, about Tariq Johnson, and about Jack Franklin. In the aftermath, Tariq’s friends, family, neighbors, and enemies each tell their side of the story, yet no two accounts line up, only obscuring the truth further and further.

With each perspective, as they struggle to make sense out of the tragedy and cope with the loss of Tariq Johnson, the community attempts to put into words exactly how it went down.


about the author




Kekla Magoon must have been very surprised to learn she was the 2010 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award Winner for her very first novel.

Kekla started writing The Rock and the River during grad school and developed it into her creative thesis. She was rejected by three editors and two publishing houses because she wouldn’t agree to their revisions. She held true to her own vision!

She was born early one morning in Michigan, and was named Kekla, meaning “morning star” in her father’s native language, Bassa. Kekla is biracial—her mother is American and white, and her black father is from Cameroon, Africa. Kekla spent several years living in Cameroon before moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Kekla studied history at Northwestern University and has a master’s degree in Writing for Children from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. After she graduated, she moved to New York City and worked with at-risk kids in Harlem.

Kekla spends her time writing and is co-editor of young adult and children’s literature for the online Hunger Mountain Arts Journal.

Author website
Author profile: LinkedIn
Author interview: The Brown Bookshelf

Also by Kekla Magoon:
Fire in the Streets. Aladdin. 2012.
Cesar Chavez : Crusader for Labor Rights (Essential Lives). Essential Library. 2011.
The Rock and the River. Aladdin. 2009.
Zebulon Pike Expedition (Essential Events). Essential Library. 2009.
Nelson Mandela : A Leader for Freedom (Essential Lives). Essential Library. 2008.
Salem Witch Trials (Essential Events). Essential Library. 2009.
Abraham Lincoln (Essential Lives). Essential Library. 2008.


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