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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for All American Boys

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jesse (JesseTheReader)

    Wow! This was incredibly powerful. This is a book that will move you and challenge you to think about the world that we currently live in. It focuses on racism and police brutality. I really respected the emphasis on how not all police are bad, but that there can be power imbalances. This book definitely left a mark on me and I know that it’s one that I’ll think about often.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Books save lives. And they change hearts and minds. This will be one of those books.

  3. 4 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    This was so so powerful and basically amazing. I know it's a slightly older book (2015) but it's like on par with The Hate U Give which has a ton of well-earned fame. This one about #blackLivesMatter is like just as powerful and super heartbreaking and the last scenes were heartwrenching. It's dual narrated by Rashad and Quinn. And it was interesting to get both perspectives. Rashad is the victim of police brutality where he's nearly beaten to death for doing absolutely nothing. And Quinn knows t This was so so powerful and basically amazing. I know it's a slightly older book (2015) but it's like on par with The Hate U Give which has a ton of well-earned fame. This one about #blackLivesMatter is like just as powerful and super heartbreaking and the last scenes were heartwrenching. It's dual narrated by Rashad and Quinn. And it was interesting to get both perspectives. Rashad is the victim of police brutality where he's nearly beaten to death for doing absolutely nothing. And Quinn knows the cop who beat Rashad and has to come to realise that being apathetic and silent in matters of racism is taking the side of the brutality. It's also actually co-written, which I didn't know at first! And these two characters basically never meet. Their lives are intertwined but they don't really even know it. I liked how deep and complex everything was too. Like the characters aren't paper plates. The writing is complex! I felt super angry at Quinn's narrative at first (like he automatically sides with the white cop who was "just doing his job" until Quinn actually DECIDES TO USE HIS BRAIN) but his character development is A+. Rashad's POV is a little slow because it's mostly set in the hospital, but he's an artist and he's aaaaamazing. I loved the detailed exploration of his thoughts through this. The anxiety and nightmares and realising he's never going to be the same after this. (Also, as a side note, his injuries and recovery process were detailed REALLY CLOSELY and I found that super interesting. Mostly books seem to gloss over hospital stays.) Basically Rashad was a lovely artistic cinnamon roll. The protest scenes were SO POWERFUL. Also 10/10 impressed at the absence of romance. The boys had crushes but this book basically has NO romance. I do confess that I don't do sport though. There is a bit of a focus on basketball, so my brain checked out there. BASICALLY: excellent book is excellent. I think it's really important to read these kind of books that tackle racism, white supremacy, police brutality, and protesting for equality and totally discuss them in depth in ways that make them real. This isn't just something that "happens occasionally and you see a hashtag on twitter". It's sad and wrong. **** Well, guess what? I'm white too -- and that's exactly why I was marching. I had to. Because racism was alive and real as shit. It was everywhere and all mixed up in everything, and the only people who said it wasn't, and the only people who said, "Don't talk about it" were white. Well stop lying. That's what I wanted to tell those people. Stop lying. Stop denying. That's why I was marching. Nothing was going to change unless we did something about it. In the United States, in the seven year period ending in 2012, a white police officer killed a black person nearly two times a week. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    ***(re)read for YA lit course***

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ #RashadIsAbsentAgainToday I’m going to be perfectly honest here and say All American Boys is not the most well-written book you’ll ever find. However, it might be one of the most important and I encourage any parent of a middle-grader to force them to encourage them to read it. I generally try to keep my non-book opinions off of Goodreads, but . . . . I’m telling you right now, if you are a Trump supporter person who already kno Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ #RashadIsAbsentAgainToday I’m going to be perfectly honest here and say All American Boys is not the most well-written book you’ll ever find. However, it might be one of the most important and I encourage any parent of a middle-grader to force them to encourage them to read it. I generally try to keep my non-book opinions off of Goodreads, but . . . . I’m telling you right now, if you are a Trump supporter person who already knows you aren’t going to agree with this review . . . . Rashad is absent . . . . again today after being mistaken for a shoplifter and suffering from broken ribs, a broken nose and internal bleeding inflicted upon him by his arresting police officer. Quinn didn’t witness what happened inside the corner store, but was outside when Rashad was taken down by a cop who just so happens to be a family friend/mentor. This is their story of how they each deal with the aftermath of this altercation over several days. I started reading this book on the day an unarmed black man with his arms in the air was filmed by a police chopper being executed in the middle of the street. The explanation by the police department? He was reaching into his car window and they thought it was for a weapon. Reaching into a car window THAT WAS CLOSED. Now they say they think maybe he had PCP inside the vehicle . . . but the tests haven’t come back yet. *eye roll* And, per usual, the country is up-in-arms and making excuses for this murder because the guy should have got on the ground like he was told and nothing would have happened. Right. Just like “nothing happened” to Charles Kinsey. Instead of making excuses for why deadly force was necessary in order to subdue a man surrounded by police WITH HIS GODDAMN ARMS UP, why aren’t people asking why in the fuck WASN’T deadly force used on a suspected terrorist who was actively engaging in a shoot ‘em up with police but somehow was only shot in the shoulder. Seriously people WAKE.UP. And don’t even think to try and say I’m a police hater. My view on this entire issue is very simple . . . . But no. Instead of talking about cops who are obviously not cut out to be cops and why it’s immediately okay to blame the victim in every one of these instances and how the hell we fix the glaring problem of race relations in this country we instead get up-in-arms and rage out for weeks about a potentially washed-up quarterback deciding to take a knee . . . . FUCK. THAT. I live in a city that defiles the National Anthem every Sunday by screaming “home of the CHIEFS” rather than “Brave,” but those same dumbshit rednecks are ready to “punch someone in the head” if they don’t stand up for a fucking song. (Word to the wise – don’t pull a Kanye and say this to someone in a wheelchair accidentally.) As this book puts it so well . . . . Nobody says the words anymore, but somehow the violence still remains. It also reminds us that . . . . History can only teach its lesson if it is remembered. It’s time to ask yourselves . . . Where was I the year all these black American boys were lying in the streets? And understand that . . . IF YOU ARE NEUTRAL IN SITUATIONS OF INJUSTICE, YOU HAVE CHOSEN THE SIDE OF THE OPPRESSOR. There’s an old saying if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. It’s time to stand up . . . . or sit down . . . . or take a knee. Whatever you see fit . . . . “This is a roll call! SEAN BELL! Then she followed with “Absent again today! OSCAR GRANT! Absent again today! REKIA BOYD! Absent again today! RAMARLEY GRAHAM!” She paused, and at that point the rest of us knew exactly what to do. “Absent again today!” “AIYANA JONES!” “Absent again today!” “FREDDIE GRAY!” “Absent again today!” “MICHAEL BROWN!” “Absent again today!” “TAMIR RICE!” “Absent again today!” “ERIC GARNER!” “Absent again today!” “TARIKA WILSON!” “Absent again today!” And Spoony kept feeding Berry the papers, one after another, as she continued to read down the list of unarmed black people killed by the police. Endless thanks to Eilonwy for putting such an important story on my radar.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Phew. This is a difficult one to rate, equally difficult to review. I wanted to give it one star and three stars and five stars simultaneously. I can't quite work out my own response. Part of the problem is that All American Boys is preaching to the choir for me. This book did little to further my understanding of race relations or police power in the US. Then again, I've closely followed the stories of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, etc. etc. etc. I'd be curious to know the reaction o Phew. This is a difficult one to rate, equally difficult to review. I wanted to give it one star and three stars and five stars simultaneously. I can't quite work out my own response. Part of the problem is that All American Boys is preaching to the choir for me. This book did little to further my understanding of race relations or police power in the US. Then again, I've closely followed the stories of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, etc. etc. etc. I'd be curious to know the reaction of people who support #alllivesmatter, people who cheered when the jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, people who feel ambivalent, or people who just haven't been paying much attention. It seems like this book is really written for them. If it can change their minds or broaden their perspectives, then the book is a monumental achievement. That being said, I just don't like "social problem novels" very much. When it comes to social problems, I'd much, much rather read non-fiction. And I suppose I am troubled to imagine that there are people more compelled by a fictional account of racism and police brutality than the copious real-world examples. Of course, if the safe distance of fiction is necessary to open minds, then how can I criticize the use of fiction as a tool for good? Mostly I worry that social problem novels aren't effective... that they only foster a sense of smug satisfaction about pre-existing convictions and alienate those who disagree. The book does a fantastic job representing the voices and concerns of the teenaged protagonists - I could imagine many of my former students relating deeply to these characters and getting fired up about the injustices depicted. The book offers a "high interest low-reading level" bridge to more challenging material - I would wager that there will be reluctant readers that pick up a copy of Invisible Man after reading All American Boys. Teachers will find ample opportunities to supplement this text with non-fiction articles, and I imagine students will be more eager to read those articles in the context of this book. My one true criticism of the text (other than its genre, which may just be a personal mismatch) is that our first view of Paul takes place during his brutal beating of Rashad. It broke Quinn's heart to see his role-model acting so reprehensibly, and the story would have been more effective if it had broken our hearts as readers as well. Since we first see Paul as a villain, we can never really empathize with Quinn's disillusionment.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joce (squibblesreads)

    I am not the same person that I was when I started this book. Thank you Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, for reminding me why I read and the propensity with which books can change us, make us alter our lenses we use to view the world and our privilege, and touch our souls.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Korrina (OwlCrate)

    4.5 stars rounded up to 5. Such an important, beautifully written story.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brigid ✩

    I feel bad that I had to kinda rush through this (it was overdue at the library)––but I can tell you, this is a great and important book that deserves attention. All-American Boys is the story of Rashad, a black teen who is assaulted by a white cop, and Quinn, a white classmate of his who witnesses the crime (and who also happens to be friends with the cop). It's quite a painful story to read because it's all too familiar. It's impossible to even count the number of true stories about people of I feel bad that I had to kinda rush through this (it was overdue at the library)––but I can tell you, this is a great and important book that deserves attention. All-American Boys is the story of Rashad, a black teen who is assaulted by a white cop, and Quinn, a white classmate of his who witnesses the crime (and who also happens to be friends with the cop). It's quite a painful story to read because it's all too familiar. It's impossible to even count the number of true stories about people of color who have been beaten and killed by white police officers. A collaboration between authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, this book gives the reader an eye-opening perspective about police brutality and racial injustice. It's interesting to see the incident portrayed through the point of view of both a victim and a bystander, and it brings up many significant questions: How do you choose sides––especially when someone you once respected is in the wrong? If we want the violence to stop, how do we end it? My only main issue with this book is that it felt a little too short to me, and I wish it had explored things a bit more. Rashad spends most of the book in the hospital, and I kind of wanted to see more about his life after recovery, what the trial was going to be like, how he was going to deal with being the symbol of a social justice movement, etc. There were also a few loose ends I wish had been resolved a bit more. But anyway, I really hope this book gains more attention. I could see this book really changing the perspectives and lives of young readers––probably those of adult readers as well. I will definitely read more from both authors.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eilonwy

    Rashad is a pretty typical 17-year-old kid, going to high school, partying with his friends, working on the sketches he hopes to make a living at one day, and participating in ROTC because his dad makes him. But Rashad is also black -- and when a woman trips over him in a convenience store, a white cop jumps to conclusions about what Rashad was doing and beats him up, brutally enough to break ribs and put him in the hospital for a week. Quinn, a white kid at the same school, misses what triggere Rashad is a pretty typical 17-year-old kid, going to high school, partying with his friends, working on the sketches he hopes to make a living at one day, and participating in ROTC because his dad makes him. But Rashad is also black -- and when a woman trips over him in a convenience store, a white cop jumps to conclusions about what Rashad was doing and beats him up, brutally enough to break ribs and put him in the hospital for a week. Quinn, a white kid at the same school, misses what triggered the beating, but sees the rest … including that the cop is a guy who is practically his own big brother. But Quinn plays basketball with some of Rashad’s friends, who let him know the cop’s version of the story is wrong. Quinn is torn -- who should he support? And should he tell anyone what he saw? I really liked this book. It’s narrated by both Rashad and Quinn, and since they’re written by two different authors, their voices were distinct -- I never once had to flip back to the beginning of a chapter to figure out whose POV I was reading. Both boys are well-rounded and engaging characters, trying to find their way in the world through their own unique experiences. They both speak powerfully and authentically, and as a reader sharing their development through this particular event, I was completely engrossed, zooming through this book in two days. This is one of the few “issue-type” books I’d consider re-reading, because there was enough else going on in the story to make it just a plain good book, even without the timely and important message. Rashad’s interest in art and Quinn’s dedication to basketball made great subthreads; both felt completely organic. Their families and friends are real people as well, just trying to make their own way in the world as best they can. The book also brings in other issues of police brutality, such as how the cop’s official story is often different from what really happened, and how we only know this because of the ubiquity of phone videos over the past few years. “Rashad is absent again today,” painted in front of the school as graffiti by one of his friends, became a rallying cry through the story, and then made me cry when it was applied to real-life victims of police violence in the US: “Eric Garner -- absent again today!” “Tamir Rice -- absent again today!” “Sandra Bland -- absent again today!” And the list goes on and on. Absent again today and forever. And thinking about that is making me cry all over again. I read this book over the July 4th weekend. And then we had the last two weeks in this country, which made it really hard to write this review. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, absent again today. Five police officers in Dallas and three police officers in Baton Rouge, absent again today. When and where the hell is it going to end? Read this book. It doesn’t offer any answers to that question, but its insights are important and well worth a few hours.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marilena and books⚓

    Απ τα καλύτερα βιβλία που διάβασα φέτος!!! “In 2012, in the United Kingdom, the number of people (regardless of race) shot and killed by police officers: 1 In 2013, in the United Kingdom, the number of times police officers fired guns in the line of duty/the number of people fatally shot: 3/0 In the United States, in the seven year period ending in 2012, a white police officer killed a black person nearly two times a week. “I’m not much of a talker,” she finished up. “You know that. But I know Απ τα καλύτερα βιβλία που διάβασα φέτος!!! “In 2012, in the United Kingdom, the number of people (regardless of race) shot and killed by police officers: 1 In 2013, in the United Kingdom, the number of times police officers fired guns in the line of duty/the number of people fatally shot: 3/0 In the United States, in the seven year period ending in 2012, a white police officer killed a black person nearly two times a week. “I’m not much of a talker,” she finished up. “You know that. But I know numbers. The numbers don’t lie, kids. The numbers always tell a story.” Because racism was alive and real as shit. It was everywhere and all mixed up in everything, and the only people who said it wasn’t, and the only people who said, “Don’t talk about it” were white. Well, stop lying. That’s what I wanted to tell those people. Stop lying. Stop denying. That’s why I was marching. Nothing was going to change unless we did something about it. We! White people!” “Nobody says the words anymore, but somehow the violence still remains. If I didn’t want the violence to remain, I had to do a hell of a lot more than just say the right things and not say the wrong things.”

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah (YA Love)

    Review originally posted on YA Love Typically for an audio review I break up my post into two parts: the audio review followed by the book review. Today I’ve decided to break away from that. Rashad’s and Quinn’s stories prompted a number of questions to form as I listened to All American Boys, so I decided to list my questions instead of writing a formal review. I think the questions I kept asking myself speak volumes about the story and about our society. All of the questions I’m listing stem fr Review originally posted on YA Love Typically for an audio review I break up my post into two parts: the audio review followed by the book review. Today I’ve decided to break away from that. Rashad’s and Quinn’s stories prompted a number of questions to form as I listened to All American Boys, so I decided to list my questions instead of writing a formal review. I think the questions I kept asking myself speak volumes about the story and about our society. All of the questions I’m listing stem from moments in the novel. 1. Why does American mean white? Why is does it seem like that’s the definition of our country? 2. Who do you call for help when you witness a police officer doing wrong? Who else can help? Will other police officers come to your aid? 3. Why aren’t the teachers discussing Rashad’s beating in their classrooms? Why do some teachers avoid openly discussing tough topics? 4. Is it really “best” to leave it (it=Rashad’ beating / race issues / tough topics) at the gym door? Does this build a stronger team or weaken it? What does this actually communicate to the student athletes? 5. Who’s on your team outside the gym door? 6. Why in this day and age are there still “Invisible Men”? 7. How do we define loyalty? Where do our loyalties lie? When is it necessary to redefine our definitions? All American Boys is a novel that our country needs right now, which is why I hope teachers and librarians and parents read and share this book with teens. Today’s teenagers will be tomorrow’s leaders, so I hope Jason Reynold’s and Brendan Kiely’s novel lands in their hands.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Krista Regester

    How important it is to show that monsters can act human sometimes.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Bacall

    If I had a million dollars I would buy cases of this book. Anytime that someone begins a discussion on the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality in the United States, or the current American experience of race I'd hand them a copy. This is the most timely and deftly handled book (directed at teens), on the issues of the black and white American racial divide. The frightening thing is that it is set in current time. "People had told me that racism was a thing of the past, they'd told me no If I had a million dollars I would buy cases of this book. Anytime that someone begins a discussion on the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality in the United States, or the current American experience of race I'd hand them a copy. This is the most timely and deftly handled book (directed at teens), on the issues of the black and white American racial divide. The frightening thing is that it is set in current time. "People had told me that racism was a thing of the past, they'd told me not to get involved. But that was nuts...Because racism was alive and real as shit. It was everywhere and all mixed up in everything..." Part of the strength in the narrative of All American Boys comes from it's dual narrative. Rashad is a high school aged black boy. He's clean cut, in ROTC. He stops at a convenience store to buy a snack. he reaches in his bag to get his money, a police officer wrongly assumes that he is digging in his bag for a weapon and he is brutally beaten and arrested by the cop. Quinn is a white boy on the basketball team. His father died as a soldier in the war in Afghanistan and is considered a hero. Quinn's best friend is Guzzo, and his brother Paul is the police officer that attacked Rashad. Quinn witnesses the entire attack. He doesn't know what happened in the store but feels like there is nothing that Rashad could have done that would make him deserve being brutally beaten. Reynolds & Keily Rashad's sections are written by Jason Reynolds. Jason chooses direct and simple words but uses unpredictable cadences and inflections that give a kind of musicality to his writing. In a section when Rashad's brother, Spoony, learns of his attack he uses the phrase "calm down" six times in two paragraphs. When read aloud it sounds like beat poetry. The layers of Rashad's character are endearing. Reynolds includes unexpected yet yield producing quirks, like his love of the very white comic, Family Circus. Quinn's sections are written by Brendan Kiely. Kiely's character reads both sympathetic and self important. He is an ultimately "good" person who has to sort through piles of confusing relationships and familial biases to decide what is right. His family is strongly influenced by their relationship with Paul Guzzo, and they blindly stand behind him believing that he did his best. They choose to trust his judgement but Quinn is conflicted because he knows what he has seen. Besides the actual scene of violence, Quinn's sections are the most difficult to read as his pain and frustration are palatable and deep. As readers we cheer for him to choose to fight for others while seeing that it may cost him a role in his only social outlet, basketball. The author duo mange to gesture to: Police brutality Hands up, Don't shoot Racial profiling ("Were your pants sagging?) Media representation of racially charged news The intensity and difficulty of police work (Rashad's dad was a cop/made mistakes) Community activism The presence of aggressive equipment at peaceful marches (paramilitary gear and vehicles) This book begs, and deserves to read, shared, discussed and questioned. I hope that this title will be completely irrelevant in a few years. I'd love for kids to look at it and wonder if it was an exaggerated, apocalyptic fiction. If we ever honestly start a dialog in this country as intelligent and open as this book, maybe then All American Boys will cease to be one of the most important books published for teens. My rating: 5 of 5 stars Written by: Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely Publication date: September 29, 2015 ISBN: 9781481463331 Page Count: 308 Publisher: Atheneum- S&S Children's Publishing

  15. 4 out of 5

    India Brown

    EXCELLENT. This book talks about the problems that plague black boys in this society so eloquently, and looks at it from every aspect. Quinn's struggle was equally as important, as he decides whether or not to make a stand or ignore everything. I love the reliability of Rashad and his friends, it's something I haven't seen in a book in a very long time. EXCELLENT. This book talks about the problems that plague black boys in this society so eloquently, and looks at it from every aspect. Quinn's struggle was equally as important, as he decides whether or not to make a stand or ignore everything. I love the reliability of Rashad and his friends, it's something I haven't seen in a book in a very long time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. A powerful social commentary, relevant and deeply moving. This book has the power to open eyes, to invoke empathy, to initiate essential conversations, to aid with understanding, to encourage change. Rich with authenticity and narrative voice, All American Boys is a must read. Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. A powerful social commentary, relevant and deeply moving. This book has the power to open eyes, to invoke empathy, to initiate essential conversations, to aid with understanding, to encourage change. Rich with authenticity and narrative voice, All American Boys is a must read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    The rating for this YA book so far is very high I think primarily because it is timely, ripped out of the daily news about racism and police brutality: Rashad, a (black) teen in a convenience store to buy a bag of chips, reaches into his backpack while in line just as a (white) woman accidentally bumps into him, and he falls to the floor. The owner, much besieged by petty theft, sees Rashad with his hand in his bag, yells to a (white) cop in the store that the kid is shoplifting. The cop beats t The rating for this YA book so far is very high I think primarily because it is timely, ripped out of the daily news about racism and police brutality: Rashad, a (black) teen in a convenience store to buy a bag of chips, reaches into his backpack while in line just as a (white) woman accidentally bumps into him, and he falls to the floor. The owner, much besieged by petty theft, sees Rashad with his hand in his bag, yells to a (white) cop in the store that the kid is shoplifting. The cop beats the kid to a pulp, which would be brutally harsh even if he WERE shoplifting. Quinn, a (white) teen who sees this agrees the brutality is unwarranted. But the tricky thing is that the cop doing the beating is Paul, a father figure to Quinn, whose biological Dad died in battle. Paul lives right across the street, has helped me in many ways, including developing as a basketball player. So the issue here is courage, which Quinn’s Dad had, in three post-911 tours of Afghanistan; does Quinn have the courage do the right thing? The answer is that it is a process. How do you turn in your “Dad” in this pretty macho, basketball-playing, cop and soldier world of men,, and in one fraught with issues of race? The answer for most people is: You don’t. Loyalty means you don’t. So the courage to do the right thing bumps up against the code of silence. I had just read YA texts by Alexie and Schmidt, also about difficult social issues, and they have greater complexity and overall writing quality than this book, which I read very fast, hardly marking a phrase I loved. I guess I would categorize it as a solid, admirable, “high interest, low level” book for middle and high school kids, and it’s easy enough for even tweens to read (though the high school level swearing might put teachers/parents off). The characters seem real, the friendships and tensions and the dialogue seems real, and we get to understand how whites and blacks might see situations differently (though in the end, they see everything exactly alike, basically. This is a #BlackLIvesMatter book with pretty didactic anti-racist purposes). Overall my students are liking it. It’s a fast and they seem to think “important” book for young people to read, so that’s important. The writing strategy for the book is interesting: Two authors, one white, one black, friends, each represent the same events in alternating chapter fashion for each of the two main characters. The book is thus great for connecting to current events (like we are doing in my class, with Chicago Laquan McDonald/Jason cop-killer story, with its own cover-ups and lies and cops being fired). Unfortunately there are many such stories for us to choose from for comparative purposes. The incident , we discover, was video-taped, social media hashtags and slogans are developed for the purpose of spreading the news--#RashadIsNotInSchoolAgain—concluding smoothly with a march from the store to the police station that also has a “die-in” where everyone lies down in the street. Things move with almost no real complications to its pretty uplifting conclusion, but without a real conversation between Quinn and cop Paul. Quiinn (a little too) quickly goes from regular guy basketball-obsessed guy to admirable but sorta unbelievably articulate spokesman for anti-racist action. There are few complicating factors at all unless you count the fact that Quinn knows Paul, and also (for thematic and racial balance), we discover (spoiler alert, maybe) that Rashad’s Dad was ALSO a vet and ALSO someone who (he confesses to his son) was ALSO a cop who seriously damaged (shooting to paralyze) an innocent kid by mistake. Two races, two families, two cops who have done bad things, but neither of these things are adequately discussed with the perpetrators. Rashad is a good kid, ROTC, never in trouble because of his cop/soldier tough Dad, and he’s an artist who grew up liking the daily strip The Family Circle, a “white people’s” comic he never felt possible for him. There’s a promising mention of the really, really racially complex and almost surreal “Battle Royal” episode from Invisible Man that Quinn is reading in English class, but not enough develops from it. Still, I liked the book and will recommend it widely to young people and teachers of young people. It’s a conversation starter with obvious links between the literature and life in the U.S. (and interestingly, not in many other places). It’s not a great or complex book but it is easy to read and topical.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Heise

    I'm not sure my words will be able to adequately express the importance of this book and the urgency I feel to get it into hands of my urban teens. This is a book to start conversations, in our classrooms and with each other. It's a book to make you take a step back and look at bias in your own life. The power in this book lies in the stripped down simplicity-two boys, two views, one incident, which, through the honesty and realness of the characters who are dealing with complex issues of race, I'm not sure my words will be able to adequately express the importance of this book and the urgency I feel to get it into hands of my urban teens. This is a book to start conversations, in our classrooms and with each other. It's a book to make you take a step back and look at bias in your own life. The power in this book lies in the stripped down simplicity-two boys, two views, one incident, which, through the honesty and realness of the characters who are dealing with complex issues of race, community, perceptions, stereotypes, and assumptions, is able to address a timely issue in a way teens will be able to relate to without feeling lectured at. Reynolds and Kiely have written a story that stays true to the teen voice and the inner struggle of trying to understand things that don't make sense, and wanting to change but not knowing how, wanting to fight for what's right in the face of outside pressures, and how that all impacts relationships with family and friends. It's a gut-wrenching book because of how easy it was for me to picture my own students faces and voices in place of Rashad's & Quinn's, and in how it made me think about privilege while keeping the focus on these characters and the many real people who have been affected by racial incidents of police brutality. I especially appreciated that the two characters were the forefront, but had friends, teachers, and family who all affected their actions and decisions in a true to life way. It's honest, real, powerful, and oh so important. It's a book people need to read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    An important book, but unfortunately not a very well written one. The "message" overshadows absolutely everything in this novel. There is no room for the reader to come to any own conclusions. Still, a fair primer for kids unfamiliar with the "black lives matter" movement. An important book, but unfortunately not a very well written one. The "message" overshadows absolutely everything in this novel. There is no room for the reader to come to any own conclusions. Still, a fair primer for kids unfamiliar with the "black lives matter" movement.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    TW: racism, police brutality, assault Another book that has a strong central message, but is bogged down by the writing and story structure. 2 1/2 stars This novel takes place in two perspectives. The first is Rashad, an African American teen, who is assaulted by a police officer after being accused of stealing something when he didn’t do anything wrong in actuality. The other perspective is Quinn, a white teen who witnessed the assault and must decide whether to speak up. The best part of this boo TW: racism, police brutality, assault Another book that has a strong central message, but is bogged down by the writing and story structure. 2 1/2 stars This novel takes place in two perspectives. The first is Rashad, an African American teen, who is assaulted by a police officer after being accused of stealing something when he didn’t do anything wrong in actuality. The other perspective is Quinn, a white teen who witnessed the assault and must decide whether to speak up. The best part of this book, without a doubt, is its examination of racism, culminating in a way that made the story feel rewarding by the end. Many teens could benefit from reading this story. The characters are alright and there’s interesting family dynamics at play in both of their stories. The plot moves along quickly enough to keep the story engaging. The writing though… It’s the kind that I have no idea how it made it past an editor. Some parts are intentional, like the authors trying to talk like teens, but other parts just feel like bad writing, perhaps amplified by the stream of consciousness narrative in parts. There’s a lot that felt immature to me: ‘yo mama/yo girlfriend’ jokes, annoying slang, text speak (and in all caps - no one texts using all capital letters???). It felt like a book trying to appeal to teenage boys but just ended up coming off as annoying. While there are strengths to this story, I don’t think this would be a top recommendation from me as far as heavy YA contemporaries. I would amend that statement if you’re looking for books on police brutality: they’re few and far between, making this a worthwhile read even just for this, though this book is certainly not without flaws.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Lanz

    All American Boys follows a black teen named Rashad who is victim to police brutality; put in the hospital by an officer after doing absolutely nothing wrong. This book left me with chills, goosebumps littering my arms. “IF YOU ARE NEUTRAL IN SITUATIONS OF INJUSTICE, YOU HAVE CHOSEN THE SIDE OF THE OPPRESSOR.” One thing I really appreciate is that Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely recognize and address the fact that there are police officers doing plenty of good in their communities. That not a All American Boys follows a black teen named Rashad who is victim to police brutality; put in the hospital by an officer after doing absolutely nothing wrong. This book left me with chills, goosebumps littering my arms. “IF YOU ARE NEUTRAL IN SITUATIONS OF INJUSTICE, YOU HAVE CHOSEN THE SIDE OF THE OPPRESSOR.” One thing I really appreciate is that Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely recognize and address the fact that there are police officers doing plenty of good in their communities. That not all police officers should be viewed as the villains, which was my main issue with The Hate U Give. It’s so important that people read books like this one; crucial that we do everything in our power to end racism. Rashad was definitely a strong main character, I could really feel for him and his family through their frustration. “Had our hearts really become so numb that we needed dead bodies in order to feel the beat of compassion in our chests? Who am I if I need to be shocked back into my best self?” Most of all though, I commend Jason Reynolds for everything he was able to convey through Rashad’s character. It felt like a little piece of him was put into the narration, and the fact that an author is able to speak through his characters to the reader is what I love to see in books. All American Boys was so so important, and I’m happy to have read it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brierly

    All American Boys zooms in on a violent act that inflames racial tension, similar to books like The Hate U Give and all too familiar in American media culture. Similar to The Hate U Give, All American Boys is written for a YA audience and deals directly with the event and aftermath of a violent act by a police officer on an unarmed black male teenager. What sets this work apart from others is the alternating viewpoint between two protagonists, Rashad and Quinn, and how authors Jason Reynolds and All American Boys zooms in on a violent act that inflames racial tension, similar to books like The Hate U Give and all too familiar in American media culture. Similar to The Hate U Give, All American Boys is written for a YA audience and deals directly with the event and aftermath of a violent act by a police officer on an unarmed black male teenager. What sets this work apart from others is the alternating viewpoint between two protagonists, Rashad and Quinn, and how authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely bring them to life. Rashad is mistaken for a shoplifter by Officer Paul Galluzzo; the subsequent belligerent arrest is witnessed by Quinn, who considers the Galluzzo family as his own after his father died in Afghanistan. The alternating perspectives allow the reader to consider the event from multiple viewpoints. In summary, this can certainly be classified as a Teen Issue Book and was a satisfying read. Recommended to fans of YA lit.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Catie

    4 1/2 stars "Look, if there are people who are scared of the police every day of their lives," Jill said, determined, "I'm going to live in fear of them for at least one day to say that I don't think that's right." This book needs to be in libraries and schools everywhere. It's absolutely an "issue" book, but the authors do a great job of crafting each character (even the villain) in a way that is nuanced, flawed, and human. I think that young people will connect with these boys and will be inspir 4 1/2 stars "Look, if there are people who are scared of the police every day of their lives," Jill said, determined, "I'm going to live in fear of them for at least one day to say that I don't think that's right." This book needs to be in libraries and schools everywhere. It's absolutely an "issue" book, but the authors do a great job of crafting each character (even the villain) in a way that is nuanced, flawed, and human. I think that young people will connect with these boys and will be inspired by the empowering ending. I wish that every incident of unnecessary violence against a person of color would be as hotly protested as the one in this book, but that's not always reality. That's why we all need this book. The story that this book brings to our young people has the power to help change our reality. If this book didn't have so many f-bombs, I would teach it in a hot minute!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    This was such a powerful book and I absolutely loved every second of it. I didn't realize that this book was about the topic that it covered and I'm so glad that I went into it blind. It was done beautifully and think that this book definitely doesn't get as much hype as it deserves. I really hope that more people get the opportunity to read it. I definitely will be doing a fully review on it. This was such a powerful book and I absolutely loved every second of it. I didn't realize that this book was about the topic that it covered and I'm so glad that I went into it blind. It was done beautifully and think that this book definitely doesn't get as much hype as it deserves. I really hope that more people get the opportunity to read it. I definitely will be doing a fully review on it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    K.

    Trigger warnings: racism, racial stereotyping, police brutality, mentions of police shooting, mentions of racial slurs. OW MY FEELINGS. So I've been meaning to read this book for at least the past year, and yet somehow I never quite got around to it. Better late than never?? Anyway. I was a little hesitant going into this, because I wasn't sure if I was in the mood for a book dealing with this subject matter. And yet I ended up completely hooked from page 1. I found the juxtaposition of Rashad an Trigger warnings: racism, racial stereotyping, police brutality, mentions of police shooting, mentions of racial slurs. OW MY FEELINGS. So I've been meaning to read this book for at least the past year, and yet somehow I never quite got around to it. Better late than never?? Anyway. I was a little hesitant going into this, because I wasn't sure if I was in the mood for a book dealing with this subject matter. And yet I ended up completely hooked from page 1. I found the juxtaposition of Rashad and Quinn's narratives to be incredibly powerful. Getting to see what was happening at school in Rashad's absence was incredibly powerful, while seeing Rashad in the hospital processing what's happened to him was heartbreaking. I read this in physical form, but I kind of wish I'd been reading it on my Kindle, just so I could have highlighted all the passages that stabbed me in the feelings. It's an amazing book that made me cry and feel things and cry some more. But in a good way? Favourite quote #1: "And if I don't do something...if I just stay silent, it's just like saying it's not my problem." Favourite quote #2: "Nobody says the words anymore, but somehow the violence still remains. If I didn't want the violence to remain, I had to do a hell of a lot more than just say the right things and not say the wrong things."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Harmony_D1

    Through this book, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely explores racism, police brutality, and what it means to be an "American Boy". This story is told through different lenses and explores different perspectives. Rashad, a black student, was beaten up by a white police officer and Quinn, a fellow classmate, witnessed it. The authors explained the importance of perspective and how nothing is right or wrong. But more importantly, they also dug into what an "American boy" is. (view spoiler)[ Through Through this book, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely explores racism, police brutality, and what it means to be an "American Boy". This story is told through different lenses and explores different perspectives. Rashad, a black student, was beaten up by a white police officer and Quinn, a fellow classmate, witnessed it. The authors explained the importance of perspective and how nothing is right or wrong. But more importantly, they also dug into what an "American boy" is. (view spoiler)[ Through Quinn and external conflicts, the authors explained what makes one so honorable isn't doing something that OTHERS view as correct, but is having the bravery to stand up for what YOU believe in and being committed to take actions. Another message that came across stated how everyone's presence is changing history and making a difference. It really stood out towards the end not only through the march but also when Rashad finally added faces to his Aaron Douglas styled drawings- telling the world that the character deserves to be noticed and isn't "invisible". Because they are there. They matter. And they are to be heard. (hide spoiler)] EVERYONE would enjoy this book so go read it. NOW.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Merlin Hanson

    It surprises me how many educators have jumped on the bandwagon of this book, and have not reviewed the actual statistics of police brutality vs crime rates in various communities, homicide rates etc.. If you do the research (using government and university studies) vs believing the news (remember, they need to sell advertising) you may see this book to be part of the problem rather than an inspiration for a solution. It seems this book was more published at a convenient time to ignite more divi It surprises me how many educators have jumped on the bandwagon of this book, and have not reviewed the actual statistics of police brutality vs crime rates in various communities, homicide rates etc.. If you do the research (using government and university studies) vs believing the news (remember, they need to sell advertising) you may see this book to be part of the problem rather than an inspiration for a solution. It seems this book was more published at a convenient time to ignite more division and doubt than move towards unity. Good luck folks.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Jeffers

    4.5 stars. An excellent book on an important topic, but it did occasionally feel like a Book On An Important Topic. More to come.

  29. 4 out of 5

    ✦ Maica ✦

    Rashad is absent again today. It was fascinating reading this book in both Rashad and Quinn's perspective. At the beginning of this book, both of them were at the opposite sides of the spectrum regarding this issue. But as the story went on, Quinn's attitude and perspective started to change. He was there when Rashad was beaten. He saw what happened. And although he could have easily shrugged his shoulders and walked away saying, "This isn't my problem. This isn't my fight." But he di Rashad is absent again today. It was fascinating reading this book in both Rashad and Quinn's perspective. At the beginning of this book, both of them were at the opposite sides of the spectrum regarding this issue. But as the story went on, Quinn's attitude and perspective started to change. He was there when Rashad was beaten. He saw what happened. And although he could have easily shrugged his shoulders and walked away saying, "This isn't my problem. This isn't my fight." But he didn't. He does not want to stay quiet any more. “There's a guy who'd just spent six days in the hospital because the guy who'd been my personal hero for four years had put him there.” The saddest part about this book is that it's barely even fiction. Police brutality has been happening all over the world to undeserving citizens that did nothing wrong. I hope that as this book garner more attention, more people can open their eyes and help do something about the injustice happening all around us. Overall, an amazing book to read for the #BlackLivesMatter movement. “Had our hearts really become so numb that we needed dead bodies in order to feel the beat of compassion in our chests? Who am I if I need to be shocked back into my best self?”

  30. 5 out of 5

    Denver Public Library

    Recent events in our country have shown that despite the election of the country's first African-American President, the specter of race still has not disappeared. The police are an important and necessary public institution but perhaps some of the methods used to police poor and minority communities need to be reexamined. Here in Denver just this week the Chief of Police announced that the department were proposing changes to the use of force policy. All-American Boys is told from the viewpoint Recent events in our country have shown that despite the election of the country's first African-American President, the specter of race still has not disappeared. The police are an important and necessary public institution but perhaps some of the methods used to police poor and minority communities need to be reexamined. Here in Denver just this week the Chief of Police announced that the department were proposing changes to the use of force policy. All-American Boys is told from the viewpoints of Rashad, a young African-American teen and Quinn, a white teen. Both boys are for all intents and purposes, All-American teens active in sports and various other activities. Rashad's dad was both a former soldier and police officer and firmly believes in both institutions. The young white teen Quinn is a dutiful older brother to his pesky brother Will and is a good son to his widowed mom. In many senses this is a coming of age story because after "the event" Rashad is forever changed (physically and mentally) and Quinn's relationship with his own friends and with Rashad is altered dramatically. The authors give a very accurate portrayal of the inner torment both characters experience as they begin to change their world view and alter their beliefs. Some of the language and situations described are a tad graphic and for this reason I would recommend this novel for ages 13+. Some readalikes are How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon and Tyrell by Coe Booth. One quote from the novel resonated very deeply with me "If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." Very true indeed. Join the authors and the library’s Read, Awareness, Dialog and Action (R.A.D.A.) Book Club on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. and apply the novel’s concepts to current events in the U.S. "All American Boys" explores police brutality from the perspectives of two high school classmates: one white and one black. Get All American Boys from the Denver Public Library - Josh

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