This novel is based on the true story of teenager Latasha Harlins who ,a few days after the Rodney King beating in March of 1991, went to the local liquor store in LA to buy some orange juice. There Latisha was accused of shoplifting by the Korean-American store owner, Soon Ja Du. After a scuffle Du shot Latisha in the back of her head. There were two young witnesses as well as a security camera.
Du was convicted of manslaughter but served no time in jail. This and the King beating contributed to the LA riots in 1992. (King’s assailants were found not guilty.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_Latasha_Harlins
In the book the background story is the same with some main characters renamed. Leticia Harlins becomes Ava Matthews (deceased) and her young brother, a witness, is Shawn Matthews. Soon Ja Du is also renamed as Mrs Parks and is the mother of Miriam and Grace Parks who are original to the book.
Shawn’s cousin is just getting out of prison and Shawn, an ex-con himself, is trying to steer him correctly.
When someone in a car shoots Mrs Parks in a parking lot Grace Parks sees and can identify the shooter, but she knows none of the background because she had not yet been born and no one talked about it. Her sister Miriam knows though, Miriam is estranged from their mom but Grace has never understood why. Now she will and the plot builds. The two families are entangled in ways no one could have anticipated.
The rest of the book unfolds like a crime novel with a new revealing twist in every Section. The chapters alternate between Grace’s view and Shawn’s view What makes it literary are the ideas developed into themes of race, family, identity, tensions, guilt, memory, vengeance, forgiveness and so on with many perspectives.