Monday, June 27, 2016

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Hardcover, First Edition, 316 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 
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.
If you had told me when I was in high school that in just a few short years we would see racial tension seeping back into the forefront of society, I can honestly say I would have laughed at you. I grew up in the South which means that (unfortunately) I am no stranger to racial tension. Though many could clearly see the line between races, I was oblivious. My parents raised us that way- we are all the same no matter what. No matter our gender, race, religious preference, or whatever else may separate us. My husband and I are raising our children with the same mindset, but now we are having to explain why some are being treated differently because of those same things. 

One of the main ways these conversations can begin with our children both at home and at school is through literature. This book is one of those that will begin (and has begun) amazing conversation and opened the eyes of many. Told from two perspectives, this novel deals with the issue of racism in a way that brings emotion to the forefront all while making the reader truly explore their own inner workings. Which side are you on? Rashad's or Quinn's? Would your minds be changed if the races were reversed? 

This book needs to be in every library. I will say that this one will be for some of my more mature 8th graders and above, but my younger students aren't quite ready for this.It doesn't mean I won't pump it up and recommend the heck out of it. Hopefully they will go talk to their parents and get them to buy it! This book is a crucial read and everyone should take the time to read it, reflect on it, and begin conversation about it.

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