Book Review

All American Boys | Book Review


Author: Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

Rating: 5+/5 Stars

Received From: BookOutlet

Summary:

Rashad is absent again today.

That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’s got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.

Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.

Cuz that’s how it can end.

Review:

Everyone needs to go and read this book right now if you have not had the chance. I mean it. Stop what you are doing right now and go pick this up at the store ASAP, then binge read it much like I did. Also, this is a book that I have given a 5+ rating to, which means that I have loved it so much and it has impacted how I now view life after reading this novel.

This book deals with issues that we are still dealing with today, including police brutality and judging people’s actions based on their race, even if they are born and raised in the same country.

Told from the perspectives of both the bystander and the victim,  it brings up many significant questions: How do you choose sides––especially when someone you once respected is in the wrong? If we want the violence to stop, how do we end it? Both perspectives are different in the way that they speak, and the message that they are conveying. Not once did I have to flip back to the start of the chapter to figure out who’s perspective I was reading from.

It’s a gut-wrenching book because of how easy it was for me to picture my friends and fellow student’s  faces and voices in place of Rashad’s & Quinn’s, and in how it made me think about privilege while keeping the focus on these characters and the many real people who have been affected by racial incidents of police brutality.

This book explores how a person perspective can change, and some may believe that their actions were correct, when in fact, they are jumping to conclusions. These actions have consequences, not only for the accuser but for the accused as well.

“Nobody says the words anymore, but somehow the violence still remains. If I didn’t want the violence to remain, I had to do a hell of a lot more than just say the right things and not say the wrong things.”

As we grown up, we are told what to say and what to avoid, but what if this is what got you in trouble in the first place? Rashad experiences this first hand, but many people in society today have experienced this as well. Although we are told to fully comply to what police say, if you look different, then often times they experience a harsher treatment compared to those who look this same.

The author duo manages to gesture to:
-Police brutality
-Hands up, Don’t shoot
-Racial profiling (“Were your pants sagging?)
-Media representation of racially charged news
-The intensity and difficulty of police work (Rashad’s dad was a cop/made mistakes)
-Community activism
-The presence of aggressive equipment at peaceful marches (paramilitary gear and vehicles)

IF YOU ARE NEUTRAL IN SITUATIONS OF INJUSTICE, THAN YOU HAVE CHOSEN THE SIDE OF THE OPPRESSOR.

Many of the views in this novel can be compared to those of everyday people in society. With all the violence that is occurring across the globe, this book should be a mandatory school read for both grade school and high school.

All American Boys is a novel that our country needs right now, which is why I hope teachers and librarians and parents read and share this book with teens. Today’s teenagers will be tomorrow’s leaders, so I hope Jason Reynold’s and Brendan Kiely’s novel lands in their hands.

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