Wild Things x OnlinesOnline: LIGHT IT UP by Faculty Kekla Magoon

*Originally featured at OnlinesOnline.

Click to buy or visit your local indie bookstore with a mask!

Light it Up features many voices after a police officer shoots Shae, a 13-year-old Black girl, when she’s rushing home. Some try to rationalize, some try to fight, others try to pretend nothing happened.

“It is interesting, how different the world becomes when there is someone you can touch” (12).

Kekla Magoon: This line has particular resonance at this moment, deep into the COVID-19 pandemic. As someone who lives alone, I have always been aware of the importance of casual touch–a hug, a pressed hand, a shoulder bump, a foot rub, anything that brings you into contact with another human–but it’s particularly heightened now. Several of the characters in the book grapple with loneliness in different ways, and this is one of those moments.

OnLines: I highlighted so many amazing lines in this novel, but I chose this one because it lets me talk about the joy in this book. This line comes from a character who has found love while working to fight injustice. Despite the tragedy throughout this book, despite the reality that “we have been here a thousand times before” and the urgency that brings, there is room for the people in this book to be people.

The despair, horror, and pain throughout this novel would mean less without the joy, love, and family we see in many of the characters’ lives. Death means nothing without life.

Amanda Gorman‘s incredible inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

Kekla Magoon: I loved seeing a young Black woman poet featured on such a prestigious national stage, and I hope it opens opportunities for more young voices to be heard speaking about the important issues of the day. I offer a fictional representation of such voices through Light It Up, but the real goal is to help my readers feel empowered to speak as artists and/or activists themselves.

OnLinesBlog: I did not break the rules with this pick! Who can tell me this isn’t musical amazingness? Amanda Gorman’s power and search for justice echoed in my head while I was reading Light it Up.

[YouTube link]

Click here for the full post, including thoughts on LIGHT IT UP’s first and (spoiler!) last lines.

LIGHT IT UP by Kekla Magoon is published by Henry Holt and Co., October 22, 2019.