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It All Comes Down to This
Cover of It All Comes Down to This
It All Comes Down to This

It's 1965, Los Angeles. All twelve-year-old Sophie wants to do is write her book, star in the community play, and hang out with her friend Jennifer. But she's the new black kid in a nearly all-white neighborhood; her beloved sister, Lily, is going away to college soon; and her parents' marriage is rocky. There's also her family's new, disapproving housekeeper to deal with. When riots erupt in nearby Watts and a friend is unfairly arrested, Sophie learns that life—and her own place in it—is even more complicated than she'd once thought.

Leavened with gentle humor, this story is perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia.

It's 1965, Los Angeles. All twelve-year-old Sophie wants to do is write her book, star in the community play, and hang out with her friend Jennifer. But she's the new black kid in a nearly all-white neighborhood; her beloved sister, Lily, is going away to college soon; and her parents' marriage is rocky. There's also her family's new, disapproving housekeeper to deal with. When riots erupt in nearby Watts and a friend is unfairly arrested, Sophie learns that life—and her own place in it—is even more complicated than she'd once thought.

Leavened with gentle humor, this story is perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia.

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Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 26, 2017
    Set against the backdrop of the 1965 Los Angeles riots, this illuminating novel explores an African-American girl’s awakening to racial division in her community. Twelve-year-old Sophie’s family moves to a white L.A. neighborhood just months before Sophie’s older sister, Lily, will leave to attend college in Atlanta. It might be a step up for the girls’ status-conscious mother, but Sophie is miserable: her parents’ marriage is on the brink, her mother has hired the grim and critical Mrs. Baylor as housekeeper, and almost no one is interested in being Sophie’s friend. After Sophie meets Nathan—Mrs. Baylor’s handsome, college-age son (who is too dark-skinned to get Sophie’s mother’s approval)—she learns how destructive prejudice can be. Through his stories, Sophie begins to see the world differently, and when violent hate crimes break out in his neighborhood, Sophie witnesses firsthand the dangers from which she has been shielded. Expressing subtle and blatant bigotries alike, English (the Carver Chronicles series) movingly reveals how an impressionable and intelligent child learns from the injustices that touch her, her family, and her friends. Ages 10–12. Agent: Steven Chudney, Chudney Agency.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from May 1, 2017
    Twelve-year-old Sophie is the younger of two sisters in an upper-middle-class African-American family in 1965 Los Angeles. Her older sister, Lily, is about to leave for college, and Sophie worries about her life without her. It is obvious that her parents' marriage is having problems, and she can no longer count on Jennifer, the one white girl who had been her friend. Despite some misgivings, Sophie decides to try out for a play at the community center, which will bring her in close contact with the prejudiced girls in the neighborhood. In addition, the new housekeeper, Mrs. Baylor, seems to have it in for her. When Mrs. Baylor's son begins doing odd jobs around the house, sparks fly between him and Lily--but despite Nathan's success at college, Sophie's mother deems him unsuitable for Lily due to his class and dark complexion. Nathan's arrest during the Watts riots brings things to a head. This is a wonderfully written novel, one that manages to address complex subjects such as racism and colorism without sinking beneath them. Both the differences and similarities between the worlds of Sophie's family and Nathan's are handled with nuance. Most of all, this is an impressive coming-of-age story whose fully realized protagonist is surrounded by a rich supporting cast. Cultural details artfully evoke the tenor and tone of the times. A slice of African-American life seldom explored in stories for young people and a must for readers of middle-grade fiction. (Historical fiction. 10-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    June 1, 2017

    Gr 5-8-Sophie is a 12-year-old African American girl living in 1965 Los Angeles. She is extremely intelligent, gifted, and determined. With two professional parents and a sister on her way to a historically black college, Sophie is living a middle-class life in her mostly white neighborhood and struggling to find acceptance among her peers. Friendship formation and creative ambitions are thwarted by bigotry, but her inner strength leaves her undaunted. Sophie has a complex relationship with her busy, successful parents. Her sister, Lily, is a strong influence on Sophie. Because of Lily's relationship with the family's Jamaican housekeeper's son, she is exposed to social activism and catches a glimpse of the 1965 Watts Riots. Relatable characters populate this story of one significant summer in a girl's life. Readers will react strongly to the scorn with which Sophie is treated by neighborhood girls, and hopefully be prompted to take up the cause of social justice when they draw parallels between the events of Sophie's world and contemporary happenings. A few instances of offensive language and a subplot involving adultery make this a choice for middle schoolers or mature middle graders. VERDICT A satisfying combination of historical and realistic fiction featuring an interesting and diverse cast.-Deidre Winterhalter, Oak Park Public Library, IL

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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It All Comes Down to This
Karen English
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