Kent State

Scholastic. Apr. 2020. 144p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338356281.
Gr 7-10–The Kent State shootings are recounted in poems voiced by the affected, from students to townspeople to the National Guard. Chaotic and contradictory, the narrative reflects the atmosphere on campus and in the nation. Each voice has its own font, but the identity of the speaker is not always clear. “Lament” introduces the four dead students and mentions the nine wounded. The events of the weekend are covered day by day as students’ anger rises, they act out, and the National Guard is called in, culminating with the shootings on May 4th. “Elegy” ties the shooting to past and present atrocities urging readers “to be informed citizens.” The phrase “Insert Your Name Here” in bold print is sprinkled in the May 4th and Elegy sections, which is distracting, but also forces readers to engage in the events. The townspeople, National Guard, and Black United Students are the only clearly defined narrators. The font for the townspeople is the smallest, making it easy to overlook. The prelude explains the impact of the Vietnam War on the U.S., and the author provides detailed information on the research and writing process at the end.
VERDICT The use of multiple voices captures the tumult of the Kent State campus and varying perspectives on events, but can make the story difficult to follow at times. A good general purchase.

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