Header Image

YA Nonfiction Review: Kent State by Deborah Wiles

Title: Kent State

Author: Deborah Wiles
Year published: 2020
Category: YA fiction
Pages: 144 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map)USA (OH)

SummaryFrom two-time National Book Award finalist Deborah Wiles, a masterpiece exploration of one of the darkest moments in our history, when American troops killed four American students protesting the Vietnam War.

May 4, 1970.Kent State University.As protestors roil the campus, National Guardsmen are called in. In the chaos of what happens next, shots are fired and four students are killed. To this day, there is still argument of what happened and why.Told in multiple voices from a number of vantage points -- protestor, Guardsman, townie, student -- Deborah Wiles's Kent State gives a moving, terrifying, galvanizing picture of what happened that weekend in Ohio . . . an event that, even 50 years later, still resonates deeply.

Review: I have been meaning to read this book for quite some time now, ever since I saw it reviewed by Sue at Book by Book. I was having a difficult time getting hold of a copy so finally ordered it from my local indie book store. I am so glad I did as it's one that is going on my bookshelf and not getting donated.

The book is written in verse with many different voices: protestors, a Black Union Students member, a National Guard soldier, a townsperson, and others that are a bit more difficult to identify, but none the less have strong voices.

Wiles did extensive research to ensure she included all voices in her book and it paid off. This is a powerful retelling of the events; it captures the emotion, the confusion, the moment by moment movements of all sides. And after the telling of it ends, she has an extensive After Word that discusses the memorials, the annual event, the special library collection, the oral histories, and more that exist at Kent State.

If you have any interest in what happened at Kent State in May 1970, then I highly recommend this slim book.

Challenges for which this counts:
  • Nonfiction--Crime and Punishment (crime: first amendment "breach"; punishment: death)
  • Popsugar--Should have read in high school (then I would have understood the issues/events better)

No comments