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All American Boys - book review and #blacklivesmatter booklist


All American Boys – review by Zela Eggleston, Main Branch Public Service Assistant

If there was a required summer reading for 2016, it should be All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely!  Not that it is at all another boring school read, but because #BlackLivesMatter is one of the biggest issues plaguing North America right now.

Imagine it’s Friday night and everyone at school is getting ready for a big house party.  You and your friends wouldn’t miss it!  Before meeting up with them you stop at the convenience store for some gum and chips.  Next thing you know, you are reaching into your bag for your cellphone and someone knocks you over, sending the chips flying out of your hands.  There should really only be one scenario that follows if no one is hurt.  Get up, apologize, gather your things, pay, and meet your friends.  But when this happens in All American Boys to Rashad, an artsy high school student enrolled in the army’s junior training program, he is instantly accused of stealing by a police officer on duty in the store.  Instead of simply being arrested, however, Rashad is dragged out of the store and beaten on the street in front of on-lookers.  A beating so severe, that it sends Rashad to the hospital with broken ribs, a broken nose and internal bleeding.   Rashad wasn’t stealing nor was he resisting arrest as the cop pummels him, however, Rashad was a black teenager and the officer, Paul Galluzo, was white.

Rashad’s arrest and police beating is caught on video and winds up all over the news.   Another witness to the incident, is Rashad’s peer Quinn.  Quinn was on his way to the same party and plays on the basketball team with some of Rashad’s closest friends.  He also grew up on the same street as the officer.  In fact, Quinn’s best friend Gunzo, is officer Galluzo’s younger brother and when Quinn’s father died, Paul was like a big brother to him.  Watching Paul beat down on Rashad while on duty becomes a pivotal moment for Quinn. 

Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely alternate between Rashad and Quinn’s perspective describing the week following Rashad’s beating.  The incident becomes a popular news item, dividing friends, families, the school and ultimately the wider community between #RashadIsAbsentAgainToday and those who believe the cop was just doing his job.  While the story in All American Boys is fiction, it is a much too familiar scenario for black men in the United States.  Everyone needs to read this book and stand up against all forms of racism until the incidents described in this book become history.   

Loved this book or review? Vote here by Monday, August 1st so this title can advance in Teen Summer Reading's Battle of the Books! Also check out the #blacklivesmatter booklist below:


#BlackLivesMatter - Teen Booklist by Megan_Library

The Black Lives Matter Network advocates for dignity, justice and respect. This English Teen booklist helps represent the Black Lives Matter movement which affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, as well as women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. The items in this booklist are great conversation starters for teens to engage in discussions about race and justice. Enjoy! #blacklivesmatter