Rising From The Ashes

In the spring of 1992, after a jury returned not guilty verdicts in the trial of four police officers charged in the brutal beating of a Black man, Rodney King, Los Angeles was torn apart. Thousands of fires were set, causing more than a billion dollars in damage. In neighborhoods abandoned by the police, protestors and storeowners exchanged gunfire. More than 12,000 people were arrested and 2,400 injured. Sixty-three died.

 

May 7, 2024 9781324030904 400 pages 12-18 years 7 and up Norton Young Readers (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Award-winning author Paula Yoo delivers a compelling, nuanced account of Los Angeles’s 1992 uprising and its impact on its Korean and Black American communities.

In the spring of 1992, after a jury returned not guilty verdicts in the trial of four police officers charged in the brutal beating of a Black man, Rodney King, Los Angeles was torn apart. Thousands of fires were set, causing more than a billion dollars in damage. In neighborhoods abandoned by the police, protestors and storeowners exchanged gunfire. More than 12,000 people were arrested and 2,400 injured. Sixty-three died.

In Rising from the Ashes, award-winning author Paula Yoo draws on the experience of the city’s Korean American community to narrate and illuminate this uprising, from the racism that created economically disadvantaged neighborhoods torn by drugs and gang-related violence, to the tensions between the city’s minority communities. At its heart are the stories of three lives and three families: those of Rodney King; of Latasha Harlins, a Black teenager shot and killed by a Korean American storeowner; and Edward Jae Song Lee, a Korean American man killed in the unrest. Woven throughout, and set against a minute-by-minute account of the uprising, are the voices of dozens others: police officers, firefighters, journalists, business owners, and activists whose recollections give texture and perspective to the events of those five days in 1992 and their impact over the years that followed.

 

AWARDS

2024 JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD GOLD STANDARD

5 reviews for Rising From The Ashes

  1. KIRKUS STARRED REVIEW

    A nuanced and necessary narrative. An account of the 1992 Los Angeles uprising, focusing particularly on the stories of Rodney King, Latasha Harlins, and Eddie Lee. Protests erupted in Los Angeles County in April 1992, following the shocking acquittal of four police officers accused of using excessive force in brutally beating King, an unarmed Black man, during a traffic arrest in March 1991. Latasha, a 15-year-old Black girl, also died in March 1991, after being fatally shot from behind by South Korean immigrant store owner Soon Ja Du following a dispute over a bottle of orange juice. Readers get to know King as a loving father, Latasha as a poet and honor student, and Du as a wife and mother working 14-hour days without respite. With tensions already high due to Du’s incredibly lenient sentencing in November 1991, violence exploded hours after the acquittal of King’s attackers a few months later. Eddie Lee, an 18-year-old Korean American college student, went with friends—against his mother’s wishes—to help protect Koreatown shops that were going up in flames and was shot to death, caught in the crossfire between demonstrators and store owners and becoming a symbol of the tragedy. Using scores of interviews, direct quotes, news reports, and archival photographs to sculpt this thoroughly researched history, Yoo vividly and movingly conveys the broader historical context and the many lives that were affected, shedding light on systemic challenges that continue today. A nuanced and necessary narrative. (maps, author’s note, in memoriam list, endnotes, bibliography, credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

  2. BOOKLIST

    Yoo outlines every detail, painting as clear of a picture as possible, and includes multiple perspectives and explanations of topics like redlining, policing, and legal matters to provide context to young readers… humanizing every person mentioned.

  3. BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S BOOKS STARRED REVIEW

    Yoo (From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry, 2021) tells the whole stories of Edward Jae Song Lee, Latasha Harlins, and Rodney King, who were each victims of racial profiling, police brutality, and a criminalized landscape that left them behind. Yoo outlines every detail, painting as clear of a picture as possible, and includes multiple perspectives and explanations of topics like redlining, policing, and legal matters to provide context to young readers. Similarly, an introduction to gang violence and drugs and the effects these have on communities is handled carefully, but their severity is not minimized. The victims’ stories are also not sanitized, but the attention to matters that contributed to the events turns true-crime tales into a look at people’s real lives. By humanizing every person mentioned, Yoo rationalizes the American dream in the eyes of Korean immigrants and the ways in which their communities clashed with those disadvantaged and already in the U.S. By Vi Kwartler

  4. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY STARRED REVIEW

    Via vivid prose, Yoo (From a Whisper to a Rally) depicts the events surrounding the acquittal of the four police officers who brutalized Black motorist Rodney King in 1992 L.A. By centering the violent attempted arrest of Black 21-year-old Marquette Frye in 1965, the author contextualizes the history of the LAPD’s racist policing and emphasizes how incidents such as King’s were not isolated. King’s case, along with the 1991 killing of Black 15-year-old Latasha Harlins, had far-reaching implications that would impact L.A.’s Black and Korean communities and led to the death of Korean American 18-year-old Edward Jae Song Lee during the 1992 L.A. Riots. Tensions between the communities are equitably highlighted as Yoo outlines the system that still denies both groups basic rights by recounting details from King, Harlins, and Lee’s lives. Moments of solidarity are peppered throughout, as when Black residents protect a Korean-owned music stall from destruction amid societal unrest. Yoo’s message of empathy, progress, and resilience following tragedy prove resonant in this moving account that remains relevant to contemporary society, in which smartphones have replaced camcorders in individuals’ quest to expose police brutality and systemic racism. Includes abundant back matter. Ages 12–up. Agent: Tricia Lawrence, Emily Murphy Literary. (May) Correction: The text of this review has been updated for clarity.

  5. HORN BOOK STARRED REVIEW

    Yoo (From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry, rev. 5/21) provides a comprehensive, kaleidoscopic account of what happened before, during, and after the 1992 Los Angeles uprising from multiple points of view, with a strong focus on the disproportionally targeted Korean American community. The deadly violence and turmoil in South Los Angeles and Koreatown were sparked by outrage over not-guilty verdicts for four police officers who beat Black motorist Rodney King, and at the lenient punishment for the Korean store owner who killed teen Latasha Harlins in a dispute over a bottle of orange juice. Using extensive research and original reporting, Yoo creates deeply humanizing portraits of King; Harlins; Edward Jae Song Lee, a young man killed trying to protect a pizza parlor; and their families. Yoo’s account includes how police decisions and sensationalized news coverage escalated the civil unrest. She offers context for additional contributing factors—decades of systemic racism, police corruption, endemic poverty, gang and drug violence. Hopeful elements include stories of civilians saving and helping others, a massive peace rally that galvanized Korean Americans, and two more trials for King. The text concludes with an update on the victims’ families and others and an analysis of changes within the neighborhoods. A powerful and compelling history book that shows how the past still affects the present. Extensive back matter includes an “in memoriam” to all victims; source notes; a bibliography, and an index (unseen). By Michelle Lee

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