X: A Novel

by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

This novelized account of Malcolm X’s early life is full of both a young man’s... read more

This novelized account of Malcolm X’s early life is full of both a young man’s promise and the pain of racism and struggle of being Black in America. Growing up in 1930s in Lansing, Michigan, Malcolm stands out as exceptional in a family that nurtured education and achievement. His outspoken father is killed when Malcolm is six. Seven years later, his mother is institutionalized. Malcolm leaves Lansing for Boston after a white teacher makes clear he thinks college is out of Malcolm’s reach. Malcolm feels betrayed by his father’s promises. “ You’re meant for great things. You have nothing and no one to fear, for God is with you… He told me these things about myself and about the world like they were true. But they were only his hopes.” In Boston and later New York, disillusioned Malcolm, whose intelligence shines from every page of this first-person narrative in how he expresses himself and in the way he thinks deeply, opts for good times. Eventually arrested for theft, he sits in prison filled with anger and thinks, “They want to write a story about me that ends behind bars … Papa would tell a different story.” His father’s beliefs live inside him, and they are nourished by the teachings of the Nation of Islam. Structurally complex, with a timeline that moves between the 1930s and 1940s, the strong narrative thread makes this fearless, penetrating work cohesive and accessible, while its themes are both timeless and all too timely. End matter includes a commentary from Ilyasah Shabazz (Malcolm’s daughter), a timeline, and additional information on historical figures and events. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016

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