All American Boys – 4.5 Star Review

All American Boys

by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

All American Boys is a YA contemporary novel about two teenage boys. Jason Reynolds provides the voice of Rashad, a teenage boy who is an unjustly victim of police brutality. Brendan Kiely writes the perspective of another boy who witnesses the incident, named Quinn. The story bounces between both boys’ POVs as the story unfolds and we get a glimpse into this familiar all-American neighborhood and lifestyle. Rashad and Quinn each have mutual acquaintances but don’t actually know one another, yet their stories get interconnected from this tragedy.

“Who am I if I need to be shocked back into myself?”

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

Readers get to experience the raw emotions and personal processing of modern-day racial injustice from two unique sides of the narrative. I think anyone reading this book will be able to see themselves in the characters and would come away with greater empathy. The characters and story are complex, and the writing style is gripping. I flipped the pages with ease and was invested in both storylines and the community reactions.

“Had our hearts really become so numb that we needed dead bodies in order to feel the beat of compassion in our chests?”

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

This is a phenomenal YA novel that explores relevant social issues in a brilliant manner. I knocked a half star from my rating because I did feel like the story ended too soon. I wanted more closure on some of the B plots and really craved more time with these characters and what happened next. However, maybe denying the closure on some pieces was an intentional artistic decision by the authors. 

“It was weird. Thinking that to protest was somehow un-American.”

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

My husband and I found a lot of things to discuss while reading this. Though we originally borrowed this book from our library, we have decided to buy a permanent copy to keep on our home bookshelves for our kids to enjoy as well. I’d recommend this to middle grade readers up to adults who enjoy contemporary fiction. The violence is mild considering the topic, but not too heavy for younger readers. 

Reviewed by Coco

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