Johnny and Jamaal
by K.M. Breakey
Two athletes from different planets are on the verge of greatness. Johnny’s a carefree Canadian making his mark in the NHL. Jamaal’s set to follow LeBron and Kyrie out of the ghetto. When their worlds collide, the catastrophic clash ignites racial conflict not seen since Ferguson. The incident tests the fledgling love of Johnny’s best friend Lucas and his African-American girlfriend Chantal, and sets them on a quest for truth and justice in the perverse racial landscape of 2016.
As chaos escalates across American cities, an MLK-like voice rises from the ashes. Wilbur Rufus Holmes may be salvation for Luke and Chantal, but can he stop society’s relentless descent into racial discord?
Johnny and Jamaal is awash with sports, violence and political taboo, as America’s seething dysfunction is laid bare.
I was provided a copy of this book by the author so that I could write this review.
This was a tough, but very carefully laid out story. Told from the perspective, mostly, of a young man from Vancouver, it highlights and explores the nature of America’s racial tension in the not so distant past.
Again, it isn’t an easy read, not due to any issues with the writing, but due to the topic and the tragedies that arise from it. The author holds back nothing. He pulls you right in, into both sides of the dynamic and the many shades between them. There are strong opinions behind these words.
This is also one of those stories that blend the line between fiction and reality. I found myself wanting to google some of the names to see if they were based in fact or fiction. Some were definitely fact, featuring heavily in real-life news and in the background of the story.
The story aims to inform, but also to influence the reader. To caution, but also to inspire hope. It is told by a fellow from outside, a man who witnesses what’s happening in our streets from a place where race isn’t a defining factor. I don’t know whether that will make it easier to take or harder. All I can say is that it made me think, question.
This isn’t for everyone, and I can see some folks getting riled up by it, particularly those closest to the real conflict. But who knows? There is that glimmer of hope if one reads through to the end.
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