Book: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Published September 2015 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books|196 pages
Where I Got It: I own the e-book
Genre: YA Contemporary
In an unforgettable new novel from award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.
A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?
But there were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan—and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team—half of whom are Rashad’s best friends—start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.
Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken from the headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.
This is a book everyone needs to read! This book is so, so important, because it’s a story that is all too familiar because of the different news stories we’ve seen recently.
What I really liked about this book was that we see Rashad and Quinn narrate the book, and how they both have to deal with what happened. I loved seeing the friendships and family and decisions that both boys had to face, and the consequences of those decisions. Kiely and Reynolds, overall, do a wonderful job of telling this story. It’s so realistic that there were times where I forgot I was reading fiction, because it really felt like I was reading something right out of the news.
We have a moment where we learn something about Rashad’s dad that made me seem more real somehow, and I sort of wish we had that for Paul, the police officer involved. There were points where I was so angry with what he said, especially when he was talking to Quinn about what happened. It totally contradicted what we see happen earlier in the book, and he really comes across as a horrible person- and as much as I want to believe that he’s a good person, it was really hard to see that after what he did to Rashad.
I really wish the book were longer- even though we see such a violent incident, and the week after, I really wish we saw more of what happened after the protest. There were a few loose ends that I wish were resolved or tied up somehow, but all things considered, the book is very powerful as is.
4 stars. All-American Boys is such a powerful, important book that everyone needs to read.