Monday, August 15, 2016

Review: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

All American BoysAll American Boys by Jason Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Rashad is absent again today."

Simple misunderstandings are not always simple. Before heading out to join his friends, Rashad changes out of his ROTC uniform and stops at a convenience store. Another customer stumbles, Rashad drops a bag of chips, and then next thing he knows, Rashad is brutally beaten by the police officer who misread the whole situation.

Quinn sees the whole incident. He is horrified when he realizes that the officer is his best friend's brother. Quinn keeps what he has seen to himself. Besides, there is video tape of the incident. And Coach has made it clear that teamwork, not division, is the key to a winning basketball season and a college scholarship.

Rashad and Quinn. One black and one white. Both all American boys.

In a ripped from the headlines scenario, this book cuts to the heart of the issue of police brutality and the undercurrent of American prejudice that perpetuates it. Instead of an "us vs. them" approach, ALL AMERICAN BOYS explores the conflict through the lens of "we." Relationships are messy and fraught with contradictions. Motivations are fuzzy. Allegiances, whether to family or friends or a team, are challenged.

There are no easy answers here. What is present on every page is empathy, soul searching, and the desire to make the world a better place by doing the right thing. Especially when the right thing is hard to do.

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