Friday, January 15, 2016

Review: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

All American Boys 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.

My Review:

This is a powerful story that is very timely to issues of police brutality that often appear in the news today.  This book does a good job showing the issue from the perspective of both of the victim and a bystander trying to figure out what is right.  This book will probably make you angry, when people in it defend someone who seems very clearly in the wrong, and it is a great book for how it was able to affect me so much in that way.   

Rashad was one of the main characters, and was the victim of the incident.  He was a good guy, who was buying some chips that he was going to pay for, and then he got beaten by a cop who thought he was going to steal.  The reason the cop thought this was because some lady tripped over Rashad, so the cop assumed he must be hurting the lady, since he was black and his pants were sagging, so of course he must have just been a thug.  Hopefully, you can tell that I think the cop was wrong in making this assumption.  Assumptions like this are dangerous, as they can get people wrongfully killed.  Luckily for Rashad, he lived, but he did have to spend several days in the hospital, with a broken nose and bruised ribs.

The other main character was a white boy named Quinn who saw the incident from a distance.  I really liked the evolution of his thinking and how he really tried to do what was right.  Seeing this was tough for him because the cop, Paul, was his best friend's older brother, who had been a role model to him in the past.  His friend assumed he would be on Paul's side, but he wasn't so sure that Paul was in the right.  But his family and other people close to him told him that Paul had a tough job and was just doing his job.  I liked how Quinn didn't just blindly listen to their thoughts on the issue.  Instead, he formed his own opinion.

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


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