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All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

February 2, 2018

Rashad Butler is a black teenager living in a small town. He’s never done anything wrong—never broken the law or gotten into trouble. But that’s not what the cops see. They see his clothes and the way he walks. They see the color of his skin.

Quinn, a white boy, stands and watches as the man who raised him drags a black boy onto the street, and throws him against the ground. He is paralyzed with emotion. It obviously isn’t right, but he doesn’t know what to do. The police officer—the man beating his defenseless classmate—is his best friend’s brother. So at first, Quinn pretends he didn’t see anything. He pretends that nothing ever happened—but secrets can’t be controlled for long in this usually quiet town.

Quinn can’t stay silent. He will be a part of the encounter no matter what, but it is up to him to fight for his own beliefs—up to him to go against the people he cares about. He will be the one who decides which side of history he’s on.

Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely alternate perspectives in All American Boys: Reynolds writes in the voice of the black boy, and Kiely narrates the white boy. This results in two contrasting personalities, and writing styles, that both have a lasting effect on readers. The author’s decisions to form personal connections— between Quinn and the police officer, and the readers with the characters—were effective, because they developed a relationship between readers and the protagonists, then threw conflicts and hurdles at the characters, resulting in a thoughtful novel.

This book educates readers about one of the biggest issues we still face in our country today: police brutality. Two authors display the stark differences between the lives of two boys—one black, one white, both American—in our contemporary world. Reynolds and Kiely show—through two resilient characters—that racism is still alive in our country, and it’s waiting for us to make a change. These authors explore themes of racial justice and standing up for your own beliefs, while bringing characters to life in this inspiring novel.

This novel informs readers about current events, but still has a gripping plot that will keep its audience flipping the pages. I rated it a ten out of ten, and would recommend it to any fan of realistic or historical fiction. Anybody who wants to learn the hidden truths of our country will enjoy this thoughtful story.

Oscar

Simon & Schuster, 310 pages


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