Hands Up by Stephen Clark



If you visited yesterday you will know that I am reviewing Hands Up by Stephen Clark. I was contacted by Stephen who, having visited my blog, thought that his latest book would be of interest to me.

The subject matter is the shooting of a black man, Tyrell, after a patrol car pulls him over. The Police Officers in the patrol car are white – Ryan, who shot Tyrell, had been in the force eight months. Greg a much more experienced officer has been like a father to Ryan after his father, also a police officer, was shot on duty.

We then follow three voices that of Ryan; Jade, Tyrells sister, and Kelly who is Jade and Tyrells estranged father.

There have been a number of high profile deaths in the USA of black Americans killed by white Americans. One such, Trayvon Martin, was a catalyst in the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement. Nevertheless, these deaths have continued as, for example with the shooting of Mike Brown (2014) or of Stephon Clark in March this year.

The question about the treatment of black people by white people goes into a deep seated belief system of, hopefully, a minority of people. However, a legal system which has grown out of the historic standings of these same beliefs, seems to continue to uphold them. It also goes well beyond the USA. Some countries have made more recent laws to try and address racism. This has gone some way to redress such situations. However, when it comes down to each individual situation, especially it would seem when law enforcement is involved and particularly in the USA, the system (the State) seems unable or unwilling to prosecute. When they do prosecute then it is very difficult if not impossible to refute a defence that is based on the use of ‘reasonable force’ when you ‘believe you are in danger’. An interesting article in the Atlantic explains. A similar incident in UK article The Independent .

It would be lovely not to need laws to address inequality but we do. Nevertheless, things will only change for the good when each one of us treats another person the same – regardless of gender, religion, sexual orientation, age or race.

My thoughts

Stephen Clark has taken such a situation and written an amazing story about how it’s three main protagonists deal with the death of Tyrell. As we read each chapter, which is headed up with the name of who is ‘speaking’, the truth of what happens unravels.

There are a number of twists to the story which moves along at a really good pace. We get the story of each of these main characters. We also see how Ryan, Jade and Kelly’s stories fit with some of the other characters. How their lives start to overlap and what happens as they get further entangled.

We learn more of Greg, of Ryan’s family, his girlfriend Kaylee also of Jades mom, Regina, and her friend Melissa. How what happens impacts on them. And we have minor characters such as Wiley and Mac who still have varying degrees of influence on the storyline.

This story shows how difficult it can be to break free of our circumstances, that it can be only too easy to go back to bad ways or to make mistakes that lead you down a path that can only take you to prison, or worse. That choosing ‘the right path’ is possible but it takes work and desire to stay on it.

It also shows that putting things right takes courage, an inner strength and a strong sense of right and wrong.

Don’t think this is a sermon rather than a book because it’s a cracking good story which will break your heart, raise your hackles, feel deeply disappointed but not really surprised by what one of the characters does, even though you understand why, and keep you hooked wanting to know what happened and what will happen.

This is a really good story, well written and well worth reading.

Buy: AmazonSmileUK


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