Book: The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
Published January 2015 by Atheneum Books For Young Readers|272 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library
Genre: YA Contemporary
Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.
Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.
I liked The Boy In The Black Suit. Like with all of Reynold’s other books, I wanted to like it more than I actually did.
I did like how Matt and his dad were grieving, and also the community that they have. Matt definitely wasn’t alone, and losing a parent can be hard. Matt’s fascination was funerals was one of the more unique elements of the book, and while I thought it was slightly weird, it also seemed to help him feel less alone. It’s different, but it seemed to work, especially when he met Lovey.
I’ll admit, I had a hard time believing that it would be totally okay for a teen to be working at a funeral home. Granted, he’s helping set things up, and isn’t actually doing anything with the bodies, but still. It was something I had a hard time believing, and I couldn’t quite get over that. It did seem to be good for him, and he’s lucky to have a great boss.
And it’s how he really met and got to know Lovey, who’s a great character. I liked her, and I liked seeing how she wanted to continue with some of the things her grandma did, like Thanksgiving dinner at the shelter. The connection between Lovey and Matt was unexpected, and I expected it to cause some issues with them, but it really didn’t.
It did end abruptly, in my opinion, but…sometimes life is abrupt and weird, and it somehow seemed to fit the book. Still, I wanted a little more closure than what we got with the ending. It’s a perfectly fine ending, and it does go with the book, but I think I just wanted something a little more from the ending.
3 stars. I liked Matt, and he definitely deals with the death of his mother in an interesting way. It made the book stand out, because you don’t usually see teens who are fascinated with funerals. Even though I only liked it, I think it’s a good read, particularly if you like Jason Reynolds.