Malcolm X’s daughters, Ilyasa Shabazz and Kekla Magoon, do a remarkable job generating atmosphere, balancing family love in the face of dire circumstances against the pulsating energy of a self-assured young man swaggering through Harlem streets in a fine zoot suit and a conk….The story of a reckless young man finding himself, X: A Novel is historical fiction at its best—an artistic exploration of a part of a renowned person’s life, one that stays true to his time and place. —Huffington Post
X: A Novel has received six starred reviews.
A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
Cowritten by Malcolm X’s daughter, this riveting and revealing novel follows the formative years of the man whose words and actions shook the world.
Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies—after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion—and that he can’t run forever.
X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.
About the Author
Ilyasah Shabazz, third daughter of Malcolm X, is an activist, producer, motivational speaker, and author of the critically acclaimed Growing Up X and the picture book Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X. She lives in Westchester County, New York.
Kekla Magoon is the Margaret A. Edwards Award-winning author of more than a dozen books for young readers, including Fire in the Streets and How It Went Down. She is also the coauthor, with Ilyasah Shabazz, of X: A Novel, which was long-listed for the National Book Award and received an NAACP Image Award and a Coretta Scott King Honor. Kekla Magoon grew up in Indiana and now lives in Vermont, where she serves on the faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Shabazz and Magoon expertly guide the reader by presenting loaded scene after loaded scene.... The result is a satisfying (and appropriate) complexity. —The New York Times Book Review
A completely absorbing novel... Readers for whom pre-civil rights America is ancient history will find this poetic interpretation eye-opening and riveting. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
This fictionalized account of the boy who became Malcolm X maintains a suspenseful, poetic grip as it shifts among moments in his life between the years 1930 and 1948. ... A compelling coming-of-age story. —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
An eye-opening look at an important historical figure. The author’s honesty about his early troubles serves to convey that it is possible to rise through adversity to make a positive difference in this world. A worthwhile addition to any collection. —School Library Journal (starred review)
Although this is a work of fiction, it's strongly tethered to the facts, to the people and events that contributed to Malcolm's world view and his path to becoming a leader. Malcolm's voice is often funny, always perceptive, and as appreciative of beauty as he is critical of the disparity between the rights of whites and blacks. —Shelf Awareness (starred review)
Shabazz and Magoon bring energy, immediacy, and emotional power to Malcolm’s first-person, present-tense voice. Often painfully candid, the authors effectively depict Malcolm’s lifetime of racial slurs and casual injustices, symbolized by the image of a lynched man hanging from a tree. It’s a satisfyingly complete, never simplistic story of one young man’s journey through trouble to the promise of a life of purpose and meaning. —Booklist (starred review)
This could be a novel about any adolescent and his dark night of the soul, but it’s in fact a powerful, fully credible reimagining of the young adulthood of Malcolm Little, who, after reaching rock bottom in prison for robbery, will discover a better path and a new identity as Malcolm X. —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
Thanks to the strength of the intimate first-person voice, readers experience right along with the adolescent Malcolm his thirst for experience, the seductive “siren call” of 1940s Roxbury and Harlem street life, his increasingly risky and dangerous choices, and finally his growing awareness of the impact of racism on his and his family’s past and on his present and future. —The Horn Book (starred review)
Riveting. ... Vivid. ... Malcolm's voice is often funny, always perceptive, and as appreciative of beauty as he is critical of the disparity between the rights of whites and blacks. —Shelf Awareness
This skillfully rendered novel traces Malcolm X's life through flashbacks, from his father's death to his imprisonment and eventual understanding of his father’s wisdom.... The publication of this book marks the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination (February 21) and is a worthy tribute to the man. —BookPage
Shabazz and Magoon do a remarkable job generating atmosphere, balancing family love in the face of dire circumstances against the pulsating energy of a self-assured young man swaggering through Harlem streets in a fine zoot suit and a conk.... The story of a reckless young man finding himself, X: A Novel is historical fiction at its best —- an artistic exploration of a part of a renowned person's life , one that stays true to his time and place. —Huffington Post
Malcolm inspired me with his eloquence, his wisdom, and his thirst for truth and righteousness. This powerful, page-turning story tells us how he discovered these qualities within himself. —Muhammad Ali
Powerful and charming—makes you see things in a whole new way. One of the best books I've read in quite some time. —Chris Rock
The inequality and injustice are vivid in this account, and this helps young adult readers today better understand what African Americans were subject to in the not-so-distant past.... This is a must-read introduction to his life for all youth to fully understand U.S. history during the twentieth century. —Everyday eBook (blog)
I can’t recommend this novel enough. —Historical Novel Society
An unflinching retelling of [Malcom X's] autobiography —School Library Connection