Book Review

Book Review: Kneel by Candace Buford

Thank you to Inkyard Press and Storygram Tours for the gifted copy.
Title: Kneel
Author(s): Candace Buford
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Genre(s): Young Adult, Sports, Social Movements

This fearless debut novel explores racism, injustice, and self-expression through the story of a promising Black football star in Louisiana.

The system is rigged.

For guys like Russell Boudreaux, football is the only way out of their small town. As the team’s varsity tight end, Rus has a singular goal: to get a scholarship and play on the national stage. But when his best friend is unfairly arrested and kicked off the team, Rus faces an impossible choice: speak up or live in fear.

“Please rise for the national anthem.”

Desperate for change, Rus kneels during the national anthem. In one instant, he falls from local stardom and becomes a target for hatred. But he’s not alone. With the help of his best friend and an unlikely ally, Rus will fight for his dreams, and for justice.

My Review:

Kneel is a powerful read about speaking up and standing up for what is right! Candace Buford stuns with her debut novel. Hands down one of the most compelling reads of 2021.

Russell is a star football player who is on track to receive a scholarship to college. He plays great and scouts are already showing interest. His parents couldn’t be prouder of him and know that his hard work will pay off. But things change when Rus’ best friend and star quarterback, Marion, get wrongfully arrested. Rus has seen witnessed so many black young adults his age get wrongfully arrested and even killed because of racism, but this really hits close to home. He is not only filled with rage but he doesn’t know how he is supposed to react. Does he speak up or stay silent?

Rus is such a brave young man. He knows that what is happening in his town is not right and just. So, during the next football game, he decides to take a knee during the national anthem. This is such a profound moment. It is the moment that Rus makes a choice to stand up for what he believes in. And the lead of to that moment gave me chills. When the mostly white crowd is chanting ‘lock them up’ it really made me see the hate in those people. To assume because of Marion and Rus’ color of their skin that they are automatically at fault. Candace really did a great job with that whole chapter and scene because it lead to action and growth.

Rus stood up with a simple kneel of the knee but so many including his coach, teammates, and parents were showing their disapproval. This is so confusing for Rus. Why are the people who are supposed to believe in him and support him doing the complete opposite? Although this is very sad for Rus, I think the author did this intentionally. She did it to show how life and moving forward stands in the way of justice. Just because these people weren’t supporting Rus it didn’t mean that they didn’t feel the same hurt and injustice he felt. In particular, his dad knew that if Rus continued to stand up and show/make statements it would be the end of his football career.

I am so glad that Rus had a love interest in Gabby. She is a force. She is all about standing up for injustice and speaking her mind. She does have a huge influence on Rus because he would do anything for her. She does support him when he needs it, but when she finds herself being wrongfully arrested by another white cop who thinks that because he wears a badge he can do whatever and never get reprimanded, it acts as another wake-up call for so many.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I give Kneel 5 stars. This story is just so powerful and told from a wonderful perspective. I was captivated the entire time. I think it showcases the hardships that so many people of color face on a daily basis while showing how hard it can be to speak up when it feels like everyone is against you. This is a great read for young adults and adults to understand the importance of self-expression.

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