Monday, November 9, 2015

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Title: All American Boys
Author: Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Publication date: September 29, 2015
Pages: 316
Source/format: Library // Hardcover

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from

In an unforgettable new novel from award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.

A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galuzzi, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?

But there were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan—and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team—half of whom are Rashad’s best friends—start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.

Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken from the headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.

My Thoughts

I have only read one novel written by Jason Reynolds but I have read nothing by Brendan Kiely. Both authors have created an important and powerful novel. All American Boys is about two high school teens who attend the same school. Rashad Butler is African American and Quinn Collins is Caucasian. One day Rashad goes to a convenience story to buy a bag of chips and is soon accused of shoplifting. A police officer ends up beating up Rashad so badly, Rashad is sent to the hospital. During this whole ordeal, Quinn is a witness. However, Quinn is conflicted. Although, the police officer is someone Quinn sees as family and a role model, the actions the police officer took against Rashad is wrong. Will Quinn march in the protest or will he side with the police offer?

Police brutality isn't a hot topic in most books these days. Yes, police brutality may be seen in a lot of books around the civil rights movement but this novel is about modern day. We think racism is over but it still exists everyday. All American Boys handles race where people are conflicted and don't know who they should side with. Some people speak up against the injustice and others assume that the police officer is just doing his job and Rashad is the troublemaker. We are living in a progressive age but how much have we learned from history? This cultural and racial divide needs to end. Are we still fighting for basic rights? Aren't we all of the same race? We all belong to the human race.

The novel is told in dual narrative from Rashad and Quinn's POVs. That ending! I loved the last chapter which is told by both Rashad and Quinn. Although Rashad has no clue who Quinn is, Quinn is conflicted through the whole novel about what he should do about what he saw that day at the convenience store. By the end of the novel, readers will find out what Quinn decides. The narratives are compelling and it's interesting to read from a victim's POV and a witness's POV of the attack.

I highly recommend this book to be read in high schools and I will be recommending this novel to my students. It's an important novel that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime.


  1. I feel very remiss as a librarian for not reading any books by Jason Reynolds yet. (Is it terrible that the cover of When I Was the Greatest just totally didn't speak to me?) I think once I'm reading for myself again I'll check out this one and/or The Boy in the Black Suit. Thanks for the great review!

    1. I haven't read When I Was The Greatest. I hope you're able to read The Boy in the Black Suit or All American Boys.