How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

Courtesy of

“The known facts surrounding the shooting death of sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson are few. On the evening of June 2, at approximately 5:30 P.M., Johnson sustained two nine-millimeter gunshot wounds to the torso. Police officers arrived at 5:37 P.M. Johnson was pronounced dead at 6:02 P.M. by EMTs at the scene. Police apprehended a person of interest, Jack Franklin, who was present when Johnson was shot but left the scene in a borrowed vehicle shortly afterward. Franklin was pulled over nearly four miles away from the site of the shooting, at 5:56 P.M. A nine-millimeter handgun, recently fired, was found in the back seat.

Magoon, Kekla. How it Went Down.  Henry Holt and Company, 2014. 325 pages. Hardcover. $20.50, ISBN 978-0-8050-9869-3

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—When 16-year-old Tariq, a black teen, is shot and killed by a white man, every witness has a slightly different perception of the chain of events leading up to the murder. Family, friends, gang members, neighbors, and a well-meaning but self-serving minster make up the broad cast of characters. The police bring their own personal biases to their investigation of the case. When all points of view are combined, the story of a young man emerges and with it, a narrative that plays out in communities across the country every day. Heartbreaking and unputdownable, this is an important book about perception and race. How It Went Down reads very much like Julius Lester’s Day of Tears (Hyperion, 2005) in a modern setting and for an older audience. With a great hook and relatable characters, this will be popular for fans of realistic fiction. The unique storytelling style and thematic relevance will make it a potentially intriguing pick for classroom discussion.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Want to read a truly lovely interview of Kekla Magoon? Here it is 🙂


  • Junior Library Guild Selection

Courtesy of

Kekla Magoon’s Website








© Chris Peeler 2013