What was billed as an evening with All-American Boys authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely become a solo event for Jason when Brendan couldn’t escape Texas storms and get to Florida on time.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In an unforgettable novel from award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country, bitterly divided by racial tension.
A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter; mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence; mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest; mistakes Rashad’s flinching at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to stay still as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?
But there were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate, who regards Paul as an older brother since his own father died in Afghanistan—and cell phone video cameras. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that Paul could potentially be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team—half of whom are Rashad’s best friends—start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.
Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken from the headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jason Reynolds is crazy. About stories. He is the author of critically acclaimed When I Was the Greatest, for which he was the recipient of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent; the Coretta Scott King Honor books Boy in the Black Suit and All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely, also the winner of the Walter Dean Myers Award); As Brave As You, his stunning middle grade debut that was a Time Book of the Year and winner of the Kirkus Award; and Ghost, the first book in his middle grade Track series, which was also a National Book Award finalist. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.
Brendan Kiely received his MFA from the City College of New York. He is the author, with Jason Reynolds, of the Coretta Scott King Author Honor book All American Boys. His debut novel, The Gospel of Winter, has been published in ten languages, was selected as one of the American Library Association’s Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults 2015, and was a Kirkus Reviews selection for the Best of 2014. He is also the author of The Last True Love Story. Originally from the Boston area, he now lives with his wife in Greenwich Village. Find out more at BrendanKiely.com.
ABOUT THE EVENT
“You can’t be more loyal to your fear than your future.”
Jason & Brendan wrote All American Boys after meeting and getting to know one another on book tour while the Trayvon Martin case was in court. The decision is what eventually sparked conversations among these friends that became All American Boys. They wrote the book in 6 weeks and it was published six months later. That was three years ago and they have gotten to know each other very well in that time. While missing Brendan at the event tonight, Jason simultaneously covered Brendan’s side of the storytelling which was very cute to watch. You could tell that they are very good friends who aren’t afraid to discuss politics.
“You can disagree, but not disengage.”
Jason started his story at the beginning–when he was 16 years old, drove through a yellow light with a carload of his friends and his subsequent interaction with the police. Brendan’s story, which occurred at a similar age, but with a much more severe driving infraction, ended quite differently. Their shared, but differing experiences are what drove them to write the uniqueand powerful story of All-American Boys.
“It’s a timely book that will be timely for the forseeable future.”
An important point to make is that this is not an anti-police book, but one that is anti-police brutality. It is a tool for complicated discussions. In the almost 2 hours he spoke, we explored the depth and complexity of this topic with Jason guiding us through a mini-US history lesson that many don’t receive in school. As he stated, it’s not simply “Slavery–Rosa–Martin–we’re free.” He even gave us a bibliography & filmography to go home and study (which follows below). In the end, we were left feeling that while the topic of police brutality may be complex and unresolved, open discussion and communication at the personal and community level are possible. We hold out hope that there could be healing of these wounds in the future.
As with our meeting last summer
, we got to take a photo with Jason after the signing. Even with such a somber topic, we were able to take a moment for a photo shoot, which was minimally successful at getting a good photo, but maximum fun.
BIBLIOGRAPHY (Authors Current/Upcoming Releases)