All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
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.
I had heard about this book in my library circle and knew I wanted to read it. When it became available as an audiobook on my Overdrive wishlist, I thought I would give it a try. Wowzer!
The book is told from two different perspectives: Rashad, the African American boy who is wrongly accused of stealing and gets beaten by a police officer, and Quinn, a white kid, up to no good, who witnesses his friend’s older brother (the cop) beating up Rashad. This is a great book to listen to as an audiobook.
This is a great book to listen to as an audiobook. The two narrators have distinctive voices so that it is easy to tell who is talking and it is almost as if they are just telling you a story, not reading a book to you.
In a world full of race issues, this book is an important one. It shows that the lines of racism are not clearly drawn. A completely innocent kid gets beaten because of what appearances look like. Even though Quinn is family friends with the police officer, that doesn’t mean Quinn has to side with him. Lines are blurry. Everyone brings their own experiences into every situation. The attitudes and actions of others affect us all.
This is a very important book that I hope many will read. It made me think and consider things I had never given much thought to and I am a better person for having read it.