Book Reviews

Review: All American Boys By Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

All American Boys

Published: September 29th 2015 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Source: Local Library

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Racism>Police Brutality, Social Movements & Justices

Synopsis: 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.


Spoiler Free Review: 

Going into this book, I knew I was going to experience a raw and emotional story. That was exactly the kind of book I experienced. This book explores themes and concepts that so many refuse to acknowledge, let alone discus. The fact that the events that occurred can happen to someone is so scary to think about. We live in a world where things as horrible like this can actually happen. But not only that. This is not a story focusing on the rights of just African Americans. This story discusses standing up for yourself and what is right. No matter what gender, race, class you are, the horrible event that occurred in this book, even if it’s fictional, is an injustice. It tackles this injustice, delivering a phenomenal eye opener. 

The writing style and dialogue was very distinct than most books, specifically the way the characters spoke. There was quite a bit of slang used and it was very reminiscent to how many people in my school spoke. I grew up in New York, so this slang and cursing was the norm for me. I did find it a bit confusing as to what state it took place in. There’s only mentions of a town in Springfield, so that was a bit strange. Another aspect I loved, was how the characters were all from different races and backgrounds. I wouldn’t call it diversity because America is already a diverse country. The races displayed in this book was not diversity, it was the reality. 

One of the most significant themes is racism and police brutality. In this generation, racial slurs are not as openly said by people. When a person is being racist towards an individual, they tend to be more discreet or maybe even try and make a joke out of it. The racism portrayed was exactly how it is in this generation. The characters’ on the policeman’s side never openly said, “that black boy is a thug.” They merely states that the police officer was just doing his job.

Our two main characters, Rashad and Quinn each have their own character arc and face  many difficult challenges along the way. Rashad realizes that some things are not worth staying quiet about and it was time to speak out. Then there was Quinn’s side of the story. I have to admit, I didn’t like him very much in the beginning, which I’m sure was done on purpose, for the sake of character development. He really does develop and gradually changes his views. In the beginning, he wanted to forget the whole incident, but he slowly noticed the injustice and wished to stand up for it.

An additional realistic component, was the role the media played. The media played a prominent role in the book, which usually happens when something goes viral. There were hashtags and social media posts all over. All in all, this bookw as truly a wonderful, eye opening story. It teaches you what it means to be on the side of the victim and learning to stand up to injustices all across the world. 

Rating: 5/5


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