Publication Date: June 20, 2016
A chance encounter between two athletes from different walks of life ignites a nationwide race war. A charismatic leader in the echo of Dr. King may be the only one who can stop the downward spiral.
The author, K.M. Breakey, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Johnny and Jamaal is a polarizing piece of fiction. Breakey is aware that his newest release deals with some controversial and up to the moment topics. Breakey is an author with the awareness that though fiction can be looked as an escape, sometimes a writer isn’t truly doing his or her job if the reader isn’t made to think. Breakey addresses current events without artifice. His first novel Creator Class (still one of the best books I’ve read) addressed a future of mass extermination and class control. His new work Johnny and Jamaal ushers readers into a controversial world of race riots using real life events like the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri as a base of tension.
Breakey is uncompromising in Johnny and Jamaal. Written intelligently, it is an uncomfortable read. Johnny is a 22-year-old Canadian and latecomer to the NHL. Jamaal is an 18-year-old Missourian born into an impoverished area but set to become the next big thing in the NBA. When these two men encounter each other, it’s in an ill-advised confrontation with tragic consequence sparking fear and anger in the general populace and causing races to rise against each other. Enter into the picture, Wilbur Rufus Holmes Jr., an activist preaching love and reminiscent of the great Dr. King. To say that Breakey doesn’t make judgments is inaccurate, but he does give reasons for his conclusions.
A subplot involves Johnny’s friend, Lucas, and his girlfriend, Chantal. They are an interracial couple, there is little politically correct in their conversations. I have to think that these two young people are saying the things that people do when sharing a life with a person with struggles they can’t identify. Chantal’s father grew up in Alabama and his patios are of the region. He sees a daughter who knows her racial history and has had her own struggles but who can’t imagine what he’s been through. Luke, on the other hand, is a sponge wanting to know everything and a person who is easily influenced and looks at situations through the veil of white privilege. On paper, they don’t work as a couple but they have a comfort and respect that is shaken when events take place. Both naturally come at the tragedy from the eye of influence.
The novel, Johnny and Jamaal, is incredibly well written. The flow is smooth, the editing perfect and the subject matter seems well researched. Especially well written is the setting. I’d love to hear from someone who has read the book and is actually from St. Louis. The places in Johnny and Jamaal have the feeling of authenticity.
So does a white guy from Canada who pulls off talking about racial unrest in the United States. There are points where it felt that perhaps he was pontificating, but by and large, Breakey turns in an authentic feeling work of fiction. Johnny and Jamaal is never a book anyone would say that they’d enjoyed reading, but they will be forced to admit that it stayed with them for a long time after finishing. Well crafted, Johnny and Jamaal and is a book that frankly, you owe it to yourself to read.
Also, check out my review Creator Class (The Creator Class Series) by K.M. Breakey.
Read an excerpt and buy Johnny and Jamaal by K.M. Breakey on