Ashley Bennett's senior year is for friends and lounging around the pool, but everything changes when four LAPD officers are acquitted after brutally beating a Black man named Rodney King. Suddenly Ashley's not just one of the girls--she's one of the Black kids. As tensions in Los Angeles rise, Ashley must reckon with the splintering of her community, friendships, and family. The Black Kids is a beautifully written coming of age story set against the backdrop of a city in turmoil.
A New York Times bestseller A William C. Morris Award Finalist
“Should be required reading in every classroom.” —Nic Stone, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin “A true love letter to Los Angeles.” —Brandy Colbert, award-winning author of Little & Lion “A brilliantly poetic take on one of the most defining moments in Black American history.” —Tiffany D. Jackson, author of Grown and Monday’s Not Coming
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?
About the Author
Christina Hammonds Reed holds an MFA from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. A native of the Los Angeles area, her work has previously appeared in the Santa Monica Review and One Teen Story. Her first novel, The Black Kids, was a New York Times bestseller and William C. Morris Award Finalist.
Praise for The Black Kids
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A WILLIAM C. MORRIS AWARD FINALIST RECEIVED FIVE STARRED REVIEWS
* “Incredibly nuanced…An excellent addition to all teen collections with a relatable main character who will lead readers through this heated moment in time.”—School Library Journal, starred
* “Christina Hammonds Reed’s debut novel, The Black Kids, is set in 1992 but has a timeliness that often feels uncanny…Reed addresses experiences common to Black teens in both 1992 and 2020 with grace and nuance. Her sentences are searingly beautiful…This is a striking debut that fearlessly contributes to ongoing discussions of race, justice and power.”—BookPage, starred
* “Reed's stark account of the limitations Black communities have historically faced in the United States, regardless of socioeconomic status, is an answer to the calls for equity and racial justice that for too long have been ignored.”—Shelf Awareness, starred
“A timely exploration of ’90s Los Angeles during racial upheaval and one girl's awakening.”—Kirkus Reviews
“I’ve never read a book that so aptly delves into the harrowing shift from black girl to black woman, while chronicling one of the most resounding examples of systemic racism in recent American history. Should be required reading in every classroom.”—Nic Stone, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin
“Infused with honesty, heart, and humor, The Black Kids is a true love letter to Los Angeles, highlighting the beauty and flaws of the city, and the people who call it home.”—Brandy Colbert, award-winning author of Little & Lion
“A brilliantly poetic take on one of the most defining moments in Black American history.”—Tiffany D. Jackson, author of Grown and Monday’s Not Coming