Saturday, January 9, 2016

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

This book has been getting a decent amount of press lately. Brilliantly written between two teen voices, Quinn and Rashad, struggling to make sense of 9/11 and its aftermath here in the US. The two authors who co-write the story offer readers the challenging lens of two high school boys and their families negotiating terrorism, racism, and bullying. The story alternates chapter by chapter between the two boys for the most part, each chapter offering both a next step in the story as well as a different perspective to view events through. The undertones and quietly-stated bullying tactics seem right on to me, but I would really like to know what young people think of this read. Perhaps most gripping to me is how true to life this book really is today.

Racial profiling is alive and thriving here in Portland tragically and across the country. The challenge is how to carefully open the conversation so young people (and the adults who care with them) can discuss our country's challenges with grace and compassion. Reynolds and Kiely genuinely bring a direly important issue to light in All American Boys, and their invitation to discuss racial violence and destruction on this continent. Nominated for a 2015 Nerdies Young Adult Fiction Award in the last week or two, this is a stellar and heartbreaking read, one that we all need to access and open conversation toward change with.

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