|I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review.|
Title: Johnny and Jamaal
Author: K.M. Breakey
Publisher: Self published
Release date: June 20th 2016
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Where do I even start with this book?
Let's start here. Let's start by saying that when I read the synopsis for Johnny and Jamaal, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Yes, because this book isn't one you pick up if you're looking for a fun read, or a relaxed afternoon. This book has a message, a pretty damn important one, a pretty damn touchy one too, and it demands attention.
To put it simply, this book is about the conflicts about Blacks and Whites in America, specifically in the United States.
The storyline for this book was very interesting. From the beginning, we are introduced to a cast of characters that look promising. Then a few chapters in, BANG! One of the supposedly main character dies! From that point on, I was always on edge every time I turned a page, expecting something else to go wrong.
It's safe to say I enjoyed K.M. Breakey's storytelling! The story itself was well put together and I thoroughly enjoyed how the author didn't shy away from provocative twists and turns.
Speaking of provocative, I have to tilt my hat to K.M. Breakey for the way he tackled the subject of skin color issues in America.
"I don't believe in racial identity. I believe we, human beings, must move beyond this way of thinking. All of us. We're part of the human race. All of us. Period. Full stop."
I'll admit that I'm not the most informed when it comes to color issues. But this book? This book was an eye opener. I learned a lot from the words of K.M. Breakey and for that reason only, I think everyone, and by that I mean everyone, should give this book a chance.
The author bring a lot of interesting ideas to the table, some regarding the Black Lives Matter movement that I found thought provoking. Many will preach BLM, but what expectations do people have regarding this movement? What do people wish to achieve with it?
"Racist police officers are not the biggest threat facing young Blacks. That honor goes to BLM itself. They preach a nothing-is-your-fault doctrine. They say, join us in our safe space and never again face consequences for your actions. No matter what you do, it's not your fault. BLM demands unmitigated submission from Whites and blind allegiance from Blacks. BLM fights racism with racism and ignores the paradox."
Don't get me wrong, black lives do matter, and it's absolutely true that they are the ones we should be focusing on right now, but the movement itself, as explained in the book, can be toxic and can set people back instead of pushing everyone forward.
What I loved about this book is that it didn't only present current issues, it gave us, readers, solutions too. It gave us example of things we can do right now to help solve the problem.
"Do not assume it's your right to be racist, or make racially insensitive comments. Do not take boastful pride in your race. Take pride in yourself and your actions. Take pride in your family and your community. Do not play the race card."
Those things apply to everyone, and it's by doing them that we will solve the problem at hand, not by shouting over and at each other.
As mentioned at the beginning, this book isn't a fun read, but it doesn't mean it was all information and no emotions. I learned to like some characters and dislike others. This book made me happy and it made me get angry. So angry that I wanted to throw it across the room, but I didn't because the story was that entertaining.
The only thing I have to reproach this book is that, while it is a work of fiction, it was all a little too real for me. It takes place in 2015 and more than once the elections are mentioned. There's also a lot of places I know, a lot of reference to hockey, a sport I know and love... It all served a purpose to the story, but it personally bugged me a little.
In the end though, nothing takes away from the fact that Johnny and Jamaal tells a solid and very important story of current issues that touch everyone, regardless of skin color. Grab it, read it and learn from it.