Review: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Review by Camille Primoliall american boys

Two authors, many sides, one truth. This novel gives life to a narrative that has become all too common in the news. Rashad Butler, a young black man, becomes the victim of police brutality. Quinn Collins, a young white man, witnesses it. The incident sparks a movement, but not before turning a community inside out. With Reynolds giving voice to Rashad, and Kiely telling Quinn’s story, the two authors have accomplished a refreshing and culturally responsive feat; suspending the need for the insider/outsider debate about who should tell this story.

Winner of both the Coretta Scott King Honor and the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature, All American Boys highlights cultural difference by giving an authentic voice to the protagonists and taking on different sides to the issue of police brutality. The story advocates embracing cultural difference and offers a sobering look at the failures of the dominant culture, which continues to uphold institutionalized racism and oppression of black and brown bodies. Reynolds and Kiely humanize black victims and provide the context the media often ignores, especially when it comes to police-perpetrated violence. This is a much needed work of literature that deserves to be known by all those who care about justice in America.

All American Boys
by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Atheneum, 2015
320 pages

Camille is a lover of calamari and romantic comedies, who is pursuing M.Ed. in Literacy Education.

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