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Kneel
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"A must read. 10/10." —Broderick Hunter, actor, model, and activistThis fearless debut novel explores racism, injustice, and self-expression through the story of a promising Black football star...
"A must read. 10/10." —Broderick Hunter, actor, model, and activistThis fearless debut novel explores racism, injustice, and self-expression through the story of a promising Black football star...
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  • "A must read. 10/10." —Broderick Hunter, actor, model, and activist
    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.
    "A gripping story about what it looks like when we demand equity, justice, and recognition of our own humanity." —Kalynn Bayron, author of Cinderella Is Dead

About the Author-

  • Candace Buford has been an avid reader since childhood—always looking for stories with strong and complex POCs. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in German Literature, which exposed her to the delightfully creepy side of storytelling by writers like Kafka and Brecht. Raised in Houston, she now lives in the PNW. She shares her life with a rocket scientist and a Plott Hound, who both ensure there is never a dull day. Kneel is her debut.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2021
    Louisiana high school football star Russell Boudreaux chooses to take a stand. NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick captured the world's attention by kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to police brutality against Black Americans. His courageous actions, which resulted in his expulsion from professional football, galvanized a generation of Black athletes to use athletic platforms to spotlight social injustice. This novel draws on this context to weave a tale about two up-and-coming Black high school football players trying to make the most of their final season and escape the harsh realities of their hometown lives. Russell is the Jackson High Jaguars' formidable tight end, unstoppable when paired with his best friend and game-changing quarterback, Marion. Yet, when White players from well-off rival Westmond incite a fight during a game using racial epithets, Marion must deal with the unjust consequences of biased policing that not only land him off the team, but possibly in jail. Even worse, one of the officers involved was reassigned following the unprosecuted police murder of a Black boy in nearby Shreveport. For Gabby, Russell's love interest and self-proclaimed intersectional feminist, this requires a courageous stand--but facing up to injustice brings unforeseen consequences; readers must navigate the complex ethics that inform a principled activist stance. Debut author Buford delivers a novel that bridges the mighty dreams of Last Chance U with the trenchant social critique of The Hate U Give. Sports' biggest social movement moment of the decade gets a special homage. (Fiction. 12-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    September 1, 2021

    Gr 9 Up-Black high school football captains Russell (Rus) Boudreaux and Marion LaSalle are painfully aware of the racially divided towns of Westmond and Monroe in Louisiana. They are antagonized by two white rival players, Bradley Simmons and Lawrence Perkins, at a game at Westmond High. Marion is arrested by Officer Reynaud on trumped-up charges and kicked off the team. Rus takes a knee during the national anthem at the following game in an act of solidarity; is kicked off the team by his coach; and is villainized by the media, his teammates, and his parents. Rus also starts falling for old friend Gabby Dupre. He questions his political stance when his and Marion's futures are on the line. A mystery person leaves protest fliers demanding police accountability in Westmond and the culprit is closer to home than Rus realizes. A peaceful protest in Westmond turns ugly and the lives of Rus, Marion, and Gabby forever change. Buford's YA novel will bring to mind Colin Kaepernick's political stance against police brutality and his censure by the NFL. Readers will be on the edge of their seats wondering about the teens' fates. Young people will also appreciate the discussions of food justice, vegetarianism, and green urban spaces in lower-income African American communities through the characterization of Gabby, who is a Black vegetarian. Buford has created relatable characters who will resonate with readers. VERDICT This novel is a necessary purchase for conversations about systemic racism, police brutality, and food justice.-Donald Peebles, Brooklyn P.L.

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    September 1, 2021
    Grades 8-11 *Starred Review* It's senior year for co-captains Rus and Marion, and they are banking on Division I football scholarships to get out of their tiny Louisiana town of Monroe. Their school might not be as rich as nearby and largely white Westmond, but talented Rus and Marion have a real shot of being scouted--that is, until the good ol' boys on Westmond's team use racial slurs and start a fight on the field. But it's Marion who gets charged with assault and barred from playing, and when Rus tries to take a stand, he faces harsh consequences. There's a lot on the line for Rus--the expectations of his family and team; college; and the real peril of putting himself, a Black teen, in the crosshairs of a trigger-happy white cop--but seeing Marion brought so low is too much to bear. While deftly exploring Rus' evolving feelings about protesting, Buford takes the criminal-justice system sharply to task, demonstrating how easily it bows for people trying to uphold white supremacy at the expense of the livelihoods (and sometimes lives) of Black people. Still, she ends on a hopeful note, emphasizing the power of collective action to make real change. A blossoming romance between Rus and an activist classmate is sweet, but his stalwart friendship with Marion feels like this powerful novel's emotional core. Perfectly pitched to justice-oriented sports fans.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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