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Johnny and Jamaal

By KM Breakey

2016

Reviewed by Angie Mangino

Rating:  5 stars

 

 


 The author wrote an explosive novel that just as easily might be the day’s news broadcast.  Fact and fiction intermingle in a novel that will stay with readers, challenging them to explore not only current events, but more importantly, their true feelings about them. 
 
White Johnny Robertson, from Vancouver, BC at 22 is determined to advance his professional hockey career, now at the verge of accomplishing it.
 
“This was his year.”
 
Black Jamaal Cooper from the projects of North Riverbend, MO is a gifted young athlete, five years ago named “best 14-year-old basketball player in the country” by Sports Illustrated.  He was ineligible for the NBA Draft being a few months under 19, but he was okay with it. 
 
“Next year was his year.”
 
With exceptional characterization, readers come to know intimately Johnny and Jamaal, as well as the people in their lives.  Readers most likely will recognize in these characters someone they know in their own lives, making the rapidly paced story even more personal.  The dialogue is authentic and uncensored, truly telling the story on city streets from both white and black perspectives, with neither being the “better” race, but rather both races feeling the pain of violence.
 
In the author’s note at the conclusion he shares why he decided to “willingly wade into these deep and treacherous waters” with the story.  The “false narratives” bothered him, making him angry.  He wrote with the “hope it spawns healthy discussion.”
 
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” – Albert Einstein