Fire in the Streets

Fire in the Streetss cover

“This provocative portrayal of a teenager’s quest for identity, belonging, and recognition transcends time and place. Readers will readily become engaged by Maxie’s zeal, her efforts to understand the people around her, her desire for acceptance, and her conflicting emotions. A strong cast of characters, vivid re-creation of documented events, and insights into the Black Panther message and actions add authenticity to Maxie’s powerful coming-of-age narrative.

School Library Journal

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About the Book

What means more, shared values or shared blood? Maxie’s choice changes everything in this acclaimed companion to The Rock and the River.

Bad things happen in the heat, they say.

Maxie knows all about how fire can erupt at a moment’s notice, especially now, in the sweltering Chicago summer of 1968. She is a Black Panther—or at least she wants to be one. Maxie believes in the movement. She wants to belong. She wants to join the struggle. But everyone keeps telling her she’s too young. At fourteen, she’s allowed to help out in the office, but she certainly can’t help patrol the streets. Then Maxie realizes that there is a traitor in their midst, and if she can figure out who it is, it may be her ticket to becoming a real Panther. But when she learns the truth, the knowledge threatens to destroy her world. Maxie must decide: Is becoming a Panther worth paying the ultimate price?



“Maxie is a believable and feisty character. Her interactions with her brother and his efforts to be the parent their mother seems incapable of being both ring true, as does her relationship with Sam, still grieving the death of his brother. Historical moments such as the riots during the 1968 Democratic National Convention strengthen the sense of time and place, but this is primarily an authentic story of a young person attempting to grasp where she will stand in the struggle.”

A well-written, compelling trip to a past not often portrayed in children’s literature.

Kirkus Reviews


“In this powerful sequel to the multiple award winner The Rock and the River, the viewpoint shifts from Sam to his former girlfriend, Maxie, 14. Her first-person, present-tense narrative sets her intense story against the political struggle in 1968 Chicago, as she joins her older brother, Raheem, in the militant Black Panther party and strives to fight a racist system. ….Tension builds to the very end, and the shocking climax is unforgettable. The personal struggle moves the politics beyond rhetoric.

–Booklist (Starred Review)

Awards and Honors

2013 NAACP Image Award Nominee–Outstanding Literary Work for Youth/Teens