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I received a free ecopy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Johnny and Jamaal are both up-and-coming sports players from entirely different worlds - Johnny is a white Canadian ice hockey player and Jamaal is an African-American basketball player from the ghetto. When they meet, the clash ignites a powder keg of racial conflict to rival Ferguson. Johnny's best friend's African-American girlfriend, Chantal, sets them on a quest for truth and justice in the racial landscape of America in 2016. As the chaos intensifies an MLK-like figure that may be able to help heal, but will society be able to return from the brink of disaster?
Johnny and Jamaal by K.M. Breakey is not at all my usual type of read (it's New Adult (or possibly older YA), features sports, and deals with incredibly difficult contemporary topics), but it's definitely worth reading. It's couldn't be more timely and Breakey draws out the issues of racism and white privilege from all angles very well. At times it's difficult to read, and that's not a criticism on the author's writing, but, simply put, the heavy subject matter. I've never read a novel that discusses present day racial issues in America like this, let alone one that discusses the matters at hand so openly. Although, this novel is not a fun read in the least, it's incredibly important.
This book does a fantastic job of opening up a dialogue and attempts to present some possible solutions to various issues discussed. At times, the situations made me so angry and frustrated, that I wanted to toss my Kindle across the room - that's how close to real life things get. It touches on quite a few real people, movements, and events, for example President Obama, Black Lives Matter, and Ferguson, MO. I found myself able to connect well with both Luke and Chantal, and able to learn and grow along with them over the course of the story. I also realized that due to the author's good character development, I could understand where these characters were coming from. The only real issues I had with the novel are that I wish we could have seen more from Jamaal's perspective than we did as he holds one of most pivotal roles, plus I wish that everyone wasn't written so dramatically in dialect. That's one aspect that slowed me down and took me out of the story - trying to work out the phonetic spellings.
Overall, Johnny and Jamaal by K.M. Breakey deserves to be read by people from all sorts of backgrounds, and not just Americans and Canadians either. That being said, it's definitely not for everyone, and I can easily understand why. Many of the issues presented here may just be far too close to home for some readers. Ultimately, this up-to-the-minute cautionary tale presents a glimpse of hope for the future.
I read this ebook from December 21 - 23, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.