May 18, 2017

Johnny and Jamaal - K.M. Breakey

Published in 2016 and written by Canadian author K.M. Breakey.

On one side there is Johnny, a Canadian hockey player with a promising career, friends and fame. On the other side there is Jammal, an American basketball player with great performances on the field and big dreams. Destiny got them to meet in one historic day but... the moment wasn't the right one, light turned into darkness and the inconceivable takes place. Provoked by unfairness and aggravated by racial issues, differences between the two proved to be stronger than reasoning.

Meanwhile, Luke (Johnny's best friend) hangs out with Chantal, a fervent follower of BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement, they both learn about the outrageous event between the two players which raise concerns for their own relationship. Tragedy fosters them to rethink their premises and reevaluate their positions toward racial discrepancies.

Wilbur Rufus Holmes, a guy with a futuristic view of life and an interesting strategy to tackle human frictions, brings up a novel alternative that may lead humanity to racial peace. His thoughts would quickly prompt all kinds of reactions, bringing understanding to some and fear and rage to others.

My score:

Seems to me the book cover is kind of misleading since when judging by its cover one might think the plot is related to sport games and tournaments rather than the real subject the book entails, therefore I wasn't that enthusiast to read it at first; however, I'm glad I did. Let's see why:

The book depicts the always intricate matter of race, the implications and consequences for those involved, and the terrible outcomes America has been enduring for centuries, and that even today there's still a long path that awaits ahead. As a foreigner who spent some time residing in the US I can say that racial differences were by far the most shocking aspect one has to deal with when trying to adapt to American society for the first time, especially when your knowledge about the country's background is so vague that you simply can't figure out what's going on. Making mistakes in a new context is bad enough, but making mistakes with people so racially aware is even worse.

Hence I found the book really educational and interesting, yet it does not provide major explanations on how slavery originated (not that it was needed, one can always do the search) it does clarify in detail current circumstances, a secret well known by Americans but not that obvious for unsuspecting immigrants dwelling there. By reading this book I got the chance to better digest some of the prevailing American behavior and the motives behind it. It also dawned on me how fortunate we are in my native Colombia to not having to carry such guilt and hostility for one another (we deal with other issues though), things we take for granted and don't even realize how blessed we are in that particular regard.

The best side of the story, from my point of view, is undoubtedly the hope of conciliation proposed by Wilbur Rufus. Humanity will be a lot happier when we get to see beyond prejudice and get over resentment; there is nothing to do about the past now so it makes no sense to keep revolving around rancor. It would be a lot healthier for everyone if we start over again and treat each other with respect; who knows..., maybe in the long run we'd end up sympathizing some more. Sadly, this kind of changes take time to develop and there's still a deep wound to heal... we might not be able to see it in this lifetime.

At first stance I wanted to state that there was a side I didn't like about this story, and it was the prevalent and unpunished injustice taking place throughout the narrative, it is definitely a tough bone to chew; but considering the book describes real life facts that's simply how daily like occurs and there's no always a happy ending.

Another aspect I want to mention here is the use of black jargon; whereas difficult to understand (got to admit I did not get the whole discourse), it surely conferred realism to the speech. I was able to 'hear' characters talking, and at times it was just hilarious!

I would absolutely recommend this book since it will certainly help some to understand the absurdity of fighting each other and keeping old hatreds alive. The book offers a scheme on how circumstances could be addressed, yet it does not imply that is going to be easy. For now, I guess people can start by giving it a thought and reflection; with time future generations will start witnessing some change.

I wish I had read this book before; it would have saved me from learning it the hard way.


  1. Great review Edna!!! It's not an easy topic to confront, and challenging "common wisdom" is generally not done in polite company :) In fact, it's often an invitation to attack. That's why fiction's the perfect tool to stir the allows for deep exploration of motive and action from all sides, and hopefully leads to better understanding. Again, nice work on the review....thanks so much! I'll be reaching out to you again next book comes out in November :)

    1. Thanks Kent, I'll be looking forward to November then ;)