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It All Comes Down to This: 10/08/18
It All Comes Down to This by Karen English is set in Los Angeles in a fictional near Beverly Hills neighborhood in the months leading up to and then during the Watts riots.
Sophie and her family have moved into a white suburban neighborhood of Los Angeles. They have a housekeeper and a yard and Sophie has a new friend who happens to be white and liberal. She wants to join in the fun — like swimming at the neighborhood pool — only to be ostracized and called by racist epithets because of the color of her skin.
Meanwhile Sophie's older sister is light skinned enough to pretend to be Jewish so she can get a job at a department store in downtown. Sophie is horrified that her sister would go to such lengths and is afraid that she'll get in trouble or worse.
Well before the Watts Riots plot started, I set the book aside. I had just come off of reading Armstrong and Charlie by Steven B. Frank (2017), a story that while flawed is so grounded in the reality of the time it's depicting that this book just fell flat. Sophie's voice is dull, lacking emotion. Frankly the book would have been better if it were written from the "white passing" sister's point of view because she was the one taking actual risks.