Title: Endangered: A Novel
Synopsis: An innocent black teenager is accused of murder in this provocative and compassionate thriller that skillfully probes issues of race, class, crime, and injustice and offers a searing portrait of modern America.
From the time her son, Malik, could walk, Janae taught him that the best way to stay alive and out of trouble with the law was to cooperate. Terrified for his safety, she warned him, “raise your hands high, keep your mouth shut, and do whatever they say,” if the police ever stopped him. But when a wave of murders hits Philadelphia and fifteen-year-old Malik is arrested, Janae’s terror is compounded by guilt and doubt: Would Malik have escaped jail if he’d run?
Unable to see her son or pay for his defense, Janae, a cafeteria worker, reluctantly allows Roger Whitford, a white human rights attorney, to represent Malik. With the help of an ambitious private attorney named Calvin Moore, Roger is determined to challenge the entire criminal justice system and expose its inherent racism—racism that threatens the very existence of America’s young black men.
Offering a startling and unprecedented defense, the lawyers spark a national firestorm of debate over race, prison, and politics that burns to the very core of Janae herself. As she battles to save her son, she begins to discover that she is also fighting for her own survival and that of her community.
Author: Jean Love Cush Note: Jean Love Cush is a first-time, self-published author.
I must preface this review by saying that there have been many reviews of this book, and I merely add my impression of Endangered: A Novel.
For those readers who know me, you know that I am a paralegal who loves legal thrillers. So, I started reading…
It was a little slow at the beginning, but picked up to become a page-turner.
Malik’s mother, Janae, only wanted justice and fair treatment for her 15-year old son, who was wrongfully accused of murdering his friend, Troy. Janae had raised her son in a poor disadvantaged area of Philadelphia. She had said, “If approached by the police, raise your hands high, keep your mouth shut and do what they order.” He did exactly what his mother had told him and now he was charged with murder. Janae didn’t have the money to hire a private attorney to properly defend Malik. So, his life was in the hands of a public defender. Or was it?
Roger Whitford, an attorney for the Center for the Protection for Human Rights (CPHR), wanted to try Malik’s case because of the social issues involved. He told Janae, “We’re not in the business of innocence or guilt. Our job here at the CPHR is justice…African American boys ought to be deemed legally endangered.” He told Janae that our current legal system is unfair to black boys and new laws should come out of this whole situation.
She wasn’t worried about changing laws; she was worried about getting her baby out of jail and proving his innocence of this murder.
Calvin Moore was a brilliant African American attorney, who was added to the legal team to bring clout and a different perspective.
I enjoyed an honest judge, who wasn’t afraid to express his personal opinion. I also enjoyed how the mothers and women of the “hood” stood by each other. I wasn’t quite sure if the budding romance between Janae and Calvin was appropriate or added to make the readers feel the realism of the story. The ADA was over zealous and unlikable.
Dealing with social issues is difficult, whether in real life or in a book. There were a lot of real issues in this book—real statistics, real issues of crime and real issues of justice. These are “real issues” that we must deal with today. This book is going to make you think about all of this…whether you want to or not. Endangered: A Novel allows the reader to think beyond the crime that was committed; think beyond the consequences of the courtroom decision; and think about what can be done in today’s society. We can think about recent headlines with similar issues of African-American teens in Sanford, Florida; Ferguson, Missouri; and Chicago, Illinois.
Malik hadn’t had a chance to be a teenager—he hadn’t even had a first date. I wanted to hear more from his point of view. I wanted to hear how he felt about his beating by the police; his time in jail; and his being scared in the courtroom.
This book was well written, so that attorneys and readers alike could understand the story. The ending was good, but I would have liked an epilogue with how Malik and Janae had enhanced their life as a result of this incident.
My only real negative issue was that the cover didn’t really do justice to the book.
I wish Jean Love Cush much success in her writing endeavors.
I rate this book…
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