X: a novel
by: Ilyasah Shabazz (illustrator: Kekla Magoon)
Published: Candlewick (January, 2015)
Malcolm’s parents love him and they believe that despite the racism plaguing the country that he can be whatever he wants to be, but life gets in the way of that dream when his father is murdered by racists and his mother is broken by the tragedy in such a way as to be institutionalized. Seperated from his family he strives to do his best in school, and he does, outperforming the white boys who call him names in class. Despite his academic abilities and his desire to be a lawyer he’s told he should think lower, much lower. People like him don’t get to be lawyers. Disheartened he gives up on the straight path and falls in love with the city and plays the hustler’s game until it ultimately leads him to jail, then to God and then to greatness.
- What personality traits led Malcolm to abandon higher learning and pursue a life outside the law? How did those same traits lead him towards a career in civil rights?
- How did Malcolm’s neighborhood nurture him? How did it fail him?
- The story isn’t chronological. Is this helpful or harmful to the story?
- Malcolm is told that he can be anything he wants to be, but he comes to believe that this isn’t possible through a series of events in his life. Many children are told the same thing. Was Malcolm wrong? Has this changed in your lifetime?
- Mr. Ostrowski reveals what he believe Malcolm is capable of in Chapter 3. Describe what kind of person he is.
- How was prison an incubator for Malcolm? Why were the words of Elijah Muhammad so effective in that environment?
- Malcolm lived a hustler’s life. Did he have a choice? Why was it so attractive?