by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Synopsis: Rashad Butler is a regular kid. His army-turned-cop-turned office worker dad pushes him to uphold a respectful image of himself: no sagging pants, close-cropped hair, and by far the most important, sporting a JROTC uniform. One night, before the biggest high school party, he stops in a convenience store to grab a bag of chips. When an officer mistakes a woman’s clumsiness for Rashad’s five-finger-discount, everything goes awry. He had no idea that night would change his life and the lives of everyone around him.
Quinn Collins is an All-American boy. His father tragically died defending his country and he is looked to be the breadwinner of the family. But the night he and his friends decide to get beers at a convenience store, he witnesses an awful crime that he can’t shake.
Both Quinn and Rashad begin to question everything they’ve ever been taught, and what it really means to be a boy in America.
Favorite Quotes: (I’m going to list all of them. Deal with it.)
My brain exploded into a million thoughts and the only one at the same time
kill me. (page 23)
Sometimes I got the feeling she thought of me more as a brother, but no dude wants to be thought of as a brother when he is sitting across from a girl who is not his sister and who makes his stomach flip when she says his name. (page 80)
“Ain’t seen you down at the church in a while.”
“That’s ‘cause I can’t afford to come.” (page 91)
...as I turned, she smiled and I felt the air leave me in a rush, because I wanted to take her by the hand and get the hell out of there, but I couldn’t. (page 110)
It didn’t take long for me to realize that hospital gift shops have terrible gifts. At least that one did. I mean, really bad gifts. Oh, so sorry you’re in the hospital having your legs amputated. Know what’ll make you feel better? A snow globe with a unicorn in it. (page 149)
RASHAD IS ABSENT AGAIN TODAY (page 165)
Nobody says the words anymore, but somehow the violence still remains. (page 218)
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. (page 292)
My Rating and Review: 4.5 stars
Where do you even start with a book that's heavy like All American Boys? The content is so heavy, the issue is heavy, the writing is...heavy. Police brutality has become all too familiar now and it's plastered all over TV, social media, and now in fiction. AAB is an outstanding read for anyone who needs a different perspective on the topic of police brutality; whether white or black or yellow, brown, green, or purple, this book is for you. (Similar title: Kekla Magoon's "How it Went Down)
I obviously connected more with Rashad's part of the story than with Quinn, but what’s amazing about both author’s writing, it made it feel real and not preachy. I could feel Quinn’s inner conflict and it actually opened up my eyes, seeing how a white person reacts to something so tragic as police brutality. I didn’t get it at first, how someone could be so passive, so unbothered by another human being disrespected and hurt, but now I do. I could feel how heartbroken Rashad and his family were and I could feel how much Quinn just didn't know what to do about it.
It is impossible to read this book without crying, especially when the names of all victims of police brutality are read. Like I said in the beginning, the book is just...heavy. It stirs up all the feelings. It is definitely a 'conversation' book.
As much as I loved it, I didn't like just one aspect. I felt like it was missing a girl’s perspective. Jill was mentioned quite often as Quinn's crush, and she's seen scattered throughout the novel leading the big protest and speaking out at school. I would have liked to see how Jill handled the situation, especially since Paul was her actual family member. With her mother and close relatives calling her a traitor, etc. I would have liked to know how she felt, and how conflicted she was in choosing the right thing to do. She seemed to always know that what Paul did was wrong, but after her scolding in the kitchen, and a small part in dialogue later on, there was no more mention of her family’s reaction, or her mental strife, living with people who thought she was completely wrong.
Other than that, the book was amazing. Like most of Reynold’s books, I found myself crying at the end. Or that could be because I’m a cry baby. Let’s go with the first one.
Buy Links: Amazon | B&N