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One Book One Lexington 2016

A 2015 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

When sixteen-year-old Tariq Johnson dies from two gunshot wounds, his community is thrown into an uproar. Tariq was black. The shooter, Jack Franklin, is white.
In the aftermath of Tariq's death, everyone has something to say, but no two accounts of the events line up. Day by day, new twists further obscure the truth.
Tariq's friends, family, and community struggle to make sense of the tragedy, and to cope with the hole left behind when a life is cut short. In their own words, they grapple for a way to say with certainty: This is how it went down.


About The Author

Kekla Magoon is the author of five young adult novels: How It Went Down, Camo Girl, 37 Things I Love, Fire in the Streets, and The Rock and the River, for which she received the ALA Coretta Scott King New Talent Award and an NAACP Image Award nomination. She also writes non-fiction on historical topics, including Today the World is Watching You: The Little Rock Nine and the Fight for School Integration 1957-58 and the forthcoming PANTHERS! The History and Legacy of the Black Panther Party in America. Raised in a biracial family in the Midwest, Kekla now teaches writing in New York City, conducts school and library visits nationwide, and serves on the Writers’ Council for the National Writing Project. Kekla holds a B.A. in History from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Visit her online at

One Book Discussion Questions

Download the One Book Discussion Questions

  1.     Describe the neighborhood in which Tariq and his family live. How does the neighborhood play a role in Tariq’s death?
  2.     What issues does Noodle have with Tariq? What is Noodle’s reaction to Tariq’s death? How does Tariq’s death affect Noodle’s relationship with Jennica?
  3.     Why is it important for Will (aka eMZee) to lead a double life? Who is Will trying to make happy? How does his tagging help him?
  4.     How does Vernesha, Tariq’s mother, show strength in the face of Tariq’s death? What does she mean when she says, “Anger would be more bearable than this sorrow”?
  5.     Why is Brick so intent on Tyrell joining the gang? What methods does Brick use to harass Tyrell?
  6.     Why does Jennica accept $100 to talk to the reporters? How does Noodle feel about Jennica talking to the press? What is ironic about Noodle’s reaction based on what he does when Brick asks him to?
  7.     Why does Brian Trellis think Tariq is dead because of him? What role does Brian play in Tariq’s death?
  8.     What misconception does Kimberly have about Reverend Sloan? How does Reverend Sloan tempt Kimberly?
  9.     What is Tina’s reaction to Tariq’s death? How does she help save his reputation? How does Tyrell help Tina free herself of some of her grief?
  10.     How does Will’s stepfather, Steve, finally begin to understand Will’s need to stay connected to Underhill?
  11.     Why does Tyrell visit Junior in jail? What does Tyrell learn that helps him make a decision about joining the Kings?
  12.     How does Jennica begin to put her life back together after she breaks up with Noodle? What role does Tariq’s death play in changing her life?