All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
It would be an injustice to this title to say that it is simply about police brutality. In truth, the writers reach much deeper than this, looking into the psyche of an African-American teen who is beat up by a policeman, and his white basketball teammate who is family friends with the officer who brutalized Rashad. The story is told from these alternating points of view, and what I especially appreciated about it was the evolution of Quinn’s thoughts and feelings as he realized that by not taking any action, he was just another part of the racism. He quotes Desmond Tutu as saying, “If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Watching him as he pondered and grew into someone who could no longer be a bystander is what made this book different from other YA novels I’ve read. The character of Rashad was also unique, as he expressed himself through drawing, in a style inspired by Aaron Douglas.
I really liked this book because it forced me to confront my own attitudes about race and white privilege. With the recent events of racism at Berkeley High, I think this book will be especially appealing to readers.
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