Review of All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

“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?”

Rashad was only trying to buy a bag of potato chips when it happened. The owner accused him of stealing and that’s all it took for the cop to start beating him up, landing him in the hospital. Quinn sees it, a police officer beating up a black kid who goes to his school. At first, he doesn’t understand it, but he soon begins to question what he knows and how this act is part of something bigger than himself. Both Rashad and Quinn must come to terms with the racism that affects them both in different ways.

Moving and powerful, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely weave together two different lives brought together by one senseless act of police brutality. Reynolds illustrates the systematic racism that is rooted in our country and the hurt and pain it continues to cause. Kiely shows that while it is important to stand by your family and friends, it is more important to stand up for moral values and to speak up when it counts.

A note about this book: In 2018, All American Boys and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas were both on a South Carolina high school’s suggested summer reading list. Both books feature police brutality against unarmed black characters. Additionally, both were challenged by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in Charleston County, South Carolina. The FOP had received complaints from parents and community members, and it was stated that these books were meant to indoctrinate kids into distrusting the police. Obviously, that is not the goal of these books. These books, along with others, are meant to show police brutality and that systematic racism is still very much alive. More information on this challenge can be found here:

Read: 6/2/2020 – 6/4/2020
Release date: September 29th 2015
Page count: 316
Rating: ★★★★★
Genre: Contemporary
Audience: Young Adult

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