First published by Candlewick Press in America in January 2015. Candlewick on Brilliance Audio edition, narrated by Dion Graham, published in January 2015.
Winner of the 2016 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Youth/Teens.
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Buy from independent booksellers via Abebooks
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How I got this book:
Downloaded from AudioSYNC
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
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.
Co-written by his daughter, X is a fictionised biography of American Civil Rights activist Malcolm X, however it interested me because the book tells the story of his formative years from school age until his early twenties. I knew nothing about this time for him and little about life for black people in 1940s Boston and Harlem.
X is intended as a YA novel so there is significant repetition of key scenes and phrases, but the writing doesn't shy away from violent realities and copious drug use. I liked how we see the young Malcolm believing himself to always be 'on the up' even as his physical and mental health are really sliding downhill and his character is both believable and compelling. Short factual essays following the novel give further insights into Malcolm's America and how the novel differs in small details from true life. It is frightening that such vicious discrimination was commonplace until so recently and campaigns such as #BlackLivesMatter show such outdated attitudes have still not truly disappeared.
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Books by Ilyasah Shabazz / Historical fiction / Books from America