Cover Image: Kneel

Kneel

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Member Reviews

An absolute gut-punch of a novel, and so unfortunately timely. I also appreciated that this was written from Rus' point of view - a unique perspective that lent even more heft. Utterly gripping - highly recommend.
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I really enjoyed reading this book! It was a book that is needed to read in the times we live in. I will recommend it for sure!
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This is such an important topic! I think a lot of teens who are into sports and not big readers will like this book. I've gotten a print copy for my middle school library and am currently highlighting it as part of their DEI-related reading, and I think it fills such a big gap. The writing is straightforward and readable, and overall I think perfect for  its audience.
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This was one of my most anticipated September releases and it didn't disappoint. 

Standing up for what's right is always hard and scary, but I can't imagine how hard it would be if you were a teenager and even more subjected to other people's rules and guidelines. Russell needs to have a great football season because getting scouted and given a scholarship is the only way he'll be able to leave his hometown. But then circumstances change and staying out of politics and protests aren't an option anymore. So he follows his conscience. Some people get it and a lot of people don't.

This is an incredibly important story and it's highly recommended.
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Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Very good book, solid story. It was interesting to see the conversation that this book brought up,. Makes you think a lot.
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Unflinching look at a Black teen and community facing poverty and racial injustice. The tie-in to football and Colin Kaepernick will attract readers, and Buford provides a realistic and nuanced look at the decision to protest.
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Although I will admit I am not a sports fan I did really enjoy this novel because I became invested in the characters. I have been trying to read outside my comfort level and was pleasantly surprised that I was able to connect to the bonds of the team mates. I really appreciated how Buford pulled me in to the story and made me feel for the characters and for the situations they were facing. This will be an easy story to book talk and I know it will fly off the shelf in my high school library.
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I'm ready to hand this to all the sports-loving teens in Bookish. But, more than that every person ought to understand the realities of our society today. The system is rigged and until we all accept that and commit to change the injustices will continue.
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I wasn't as engaged in this story about a football team at a majority Black high school in Louisiana dealing with blatant racism from the football players at a majority white high school as I wanted to be. However the plot is excellent and the end made reading the book worth it - the writing just started out flat for me. This will still attract a lot of readers who will hopefully be inspired by the story.
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Kneel by Candace Buford is the first book I've seen for YA readers that focuses on the subject of Black Lives Matter by pointing its attention into kneeling during the National Anthem to protest against police brutality. It takes place in a poor area of Louisiana where the community is mainly made of blue collar workers who live paycheck to paycheck, understanding their limitations due to the area they live in and the overbearing presence of the police whose prejudice is blatant and unapologetic. The recent murder of a young black man has everyone on edge, especially the teen boys who live there. The powerful football team in the community is the only way some of the characters see that they can escape, and the rivalry with a nearby white and wealthy school presents an ugly inequality between not only the treatment of the young men on the two teams, but the facilities and opportunities each has access to. With a mystery protestor posting flyers calling out the racist police force putting everyone on edge, the football team is treading lightly to avoid becoming targets. When the police brutality and prejudice gets out of hand, and the main character, Rus, decides to take a knee during the National Anthem to nonviolently bring attention to the issue. He never anticipates just how much controversy he will cause, even in his own family, not to mention the hatred of so many people around him. Much like The Hate You Give, Kneel places readers in a situation many of them will never experience, but one that all people can learn empathy from. As cases like Rus' and his teammate and friend Marion's appear daily on our TV screens and across our newsfeeds, it's so easy to become immune to them. This is a compelling book that will help readers gain insight and understanding into not only racism and prejudice, but also entitlement and continuing inequity. Kneel needs to be on a shelf right beside The Hate You Give and Dear Martin as must-reads for today's youth. It is most appropriate for high school, I . As middle school librarian, I'll wait to see what interest level professional reviewers assign it before ordering a copy, but if it's rated for grades 8+, I will definitely want to order it.
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When a book talking about an intensely important topic comes out in young adult fiction, you know that event will live on beyond the newsreels. This is not to say Colin Kaepernick and others who knelt in opposition to police brutality were just a news story. Their actions, like the actions of Russell here in Kneel, were meant to represent the civil anger that they knew many people would see and would include community leaders who would have more power to change the future. Kneeling became so controversial because those who would rather ignore problems were forced to face the consequences of those events in spaces they believed were untouchable. Russell shows that courage in his civil nonviolent protest to not only shed light on the injustice of his friend, but an injustice that had always been there and kept in the shadows.
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This book addresses not only awareness, but teamwork and supporting others. Institutionalized racism is all over, included team sports at juvenile/teen level. This would be a terrific book for a classroom discussion or a book club, with obvious comparisons to Kapernick and the BLM movement.
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You have a platform. You have people’s attention. Use it.

Candace Buford’s, Kneel knocks it out of the park! I am thankful to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for sharing a copy of this beautiful rendering in exchange for an honest review. 

Russell Boudreaux is a senior at Jackson High School in Louisiana where he is a standout athlete and regionally ranked tight-end on the squad. His focus is two parts: 1) football and 2) to acquire a golden ticket out of Monroe on a division 1 scholarship. While Rus has a great shot at accomplishing both, the harsh reality is that not everyone will make it out causing concern for him and all those around him striving similarly. 

It is true that Rus has the support of his team, his family, and his community and yet the racial divides that separate Monroe and Westmond cannot be ignored. summer break, a white police officer shot and killed a Black kid for no reason other than looking suspicious. And at the start of the season, no action has been taken against the officer. 

Tensions come to a head when in a big rivalry game racial slurs are thrown and violence ensues. Police are involved and the arrest one of Rus’ teammates follows.  All of which creates issues for him and his plans and bring to light the ongoing struggles between the two communities. The question of justice and fairness come into play when students from Westmond who started the fight do not receive the same harsh treatment.

Faced with a desire to do something and stand against injustice, Rus takes a knee during the national anthem at a game and is criticized across the board. Not exactly the response he was hoping to receive but one that will change him and so many around him. Where he thought he’d be met with understanding and respect, instead he encounters hate on varying levels. 

The author does a really good job developing the main character. Throughout the book, we can see the tension between him and the people and things surrounding and the struggles he faces internally in trying to determine the right thing to do. At times he wants to stand up and fight and other times he is driven by acquiescence and keeping his head down, worrying only about himself. To tackle the complexities of these nuances and mirror them to Colin Kaepernick’s story… phenomenal.

Realistic fiction at its finest!
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I featured this book as a Book of the Day spotlight and included it in my weekly roundup and monthly post of new releases on my Black Fiction Addiction platforms.
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Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for this eARC.

Kneel is the story of what it’s like to be Black in Louisiana. Marion & Rus are involved in a fight on the football field with two white players. The police arrest Marion and let the white player go.

What follows is their struggle with trying to fight for what’s right, while staying out of trouble with an unjust police department. 

In the same vein at The Hate U Give, Kneel is a thought-provoking story that will resonate with teens. A solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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Kneel
by Candace Buford
Pub Date: 14 Sep 2021
This is a fairly quick read which brings a hot national topic to the high school football field. Rus has it all. He is a star football player on his way to a college scholarship-his one and only way to college. Then his best friend is unfairly targeted and accused because of the color of his skin. Rus makes a snap decision to kneel during the anthem in protest and his future crumbles in front of him. Was it worth standing up-or kneeling- for what he believed in? 
Great read for high schoolers.
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As a woman it's all to easy to spot the patriarchy. While mainsplaining is certainly annoying, it is seldom fatal (except in the ER but that's a post for another day). Living while Black is deadly and it starts so early. Kneeling while Black can end a career but sometimes people are brave enough to do it anyway.
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I am a huge fan of Colin kaepernick and have been following the protest from day 1. That being said this book was a pretty identical factionalized version of the story, I think it’s great for people that don’t necessarily know the story but to me I was bored
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Thank you, Net Galley, for the ARC of Kneel

There are a lot of Black Lives Matter books for young readers (thank God), but this takes the approach from young protesters; should they protest? or is it too dangerous? 

When your skin is dark in Louisiana, you know the chips are stacked against you. Russel and Marion do all they can to lay low until graduation. But when Marion is unfairly accused of a crime he didn't commit, Russel has to bring light to the situation. And just like Colin Kaepernick, he kneeled during the anthem which words did not apply to every American. 

Candace Buford did an excellent job bringing the topic to understanding at a middle grade to YA level and still lets it be important enough for adults to read. 

Recommended for grades 8 and up
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Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read an ARC of Kneel! 

Wow, what a powerful book! It deals with some very timely themes that are front and center in the world right now, and it approaches them in a very real and thoughtful way. The characters are incredibly deep and sympathetic, and I felt like I was able to experience their lives and emotions as I was reading the story. I especially loved the deep friendship between Rus and Marion, and the author even got me to care about the football elements of the story (something that is hard to do, since I care very little for sports). This was such a well-crafted story that was able to be true to itself and not feel too heavy-handed with its thematic elements. Definitely recommend!
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