All American Boys
Why hello there! My name is Kendra, I’m That Reader Girl, and today I’m coming at you with a book review for All American Boys by Jason Reynolds.
The way this review is organized is in different sections. The first section is for characters. Each Character has his or her own section and description. Then, we have a section for plot. In this section, it explains a little of how the plot went, and why or why no I liked it. This section has all the story’s content. The next section is writing. It discusses my thoughts on the author’s writing style and what I liked about it, and then what I didn’t. The final sections are my favorite and least favorite parts of the book. Of course, these are all my opinions and if you disagree, feel free to tell me! Just please don’t be rude or send hate. I’m trying to radiate positive vibes, and share my opinion.
Now, Spoilers Ahead!!!!
I rated All American Boys 5 out of 5 stars. This book was phenomenal and I was absolutely obsessed with it all the way through. I didn’t want to put it down!
All American Boys follows our two main characters, Rashad and Quinn. Both boys go to the same school and live in a bit of a rough town. However, neither boy could ever imagine being involved in a national news story about something that seems so far away from home. When a white cop suspects Rashad for stealing and injuring a white woman, he bears down on Rashad, landing him in the hospital. Quinn had been passing through and caught sight of his best friend’s brother beating up some kid from his school. This sends the school and community spiraling and as Rashad tries to get a hold of what just happened to him, Quinn must decide whether he will fight for what his family believes, or his heart.
Rashad: I really admired how much Rashad was able to be open with other people and admit that he needed help. Even in today’s society, it is looked down upon for a guy to show feelings or admit that something is troubling them. I loved how Rashad was able to overcome that and ask for help. Also, I loved how Rashad didn’t immediately retaliate. Sure, he was a bit salty… but he was able to focus on getting better. I also liked how Rashad loved art. Again, another thing we see Rashad doing that in today’s society is blasphemy. I also really liked how in the beginning, Rashad saw himself as just another unlucky soul to get beat upon by a white cop, but by the end, he could see that he was a person too, not just another faceless being on the news. When he added the face to his drawing, I think it was really powerful, showing that character change, and the truth.
Quinn: I adored how much Quinn changed through the book. His original thoughts that Paul couldn’t be in the wrong because he had grown up seeing him as a father or older brother, and then realizing that he was wrong. His trust in Paul obviously faltered, and I was obsessed with how much Paul’s actions altered their relationship and how Quinn was able to see past that. Unlike Guzzo, Quinn could see that Paul was wrong. Also, I noticed how Quinn seemed really lost in all of this. He didn’t know who to follow. He could listen to his best friend, his older brother and his parents, or Jill and his heart. I appreciated his ability to push past his family and his coach especially. The entire book you can see the basketball coach forcing the team to step back and ignore all of what was going on and claiming that it wasn’t their problem. Obviously, it was their problem and I admired how Quinn could see that and turn away from his family to follow the right path. When Quinn wouldn’t watch the video because he had seen the real thing, I could see why he made that choice. But then he realized that this was his problem, and he did something about it. Also, both Quinn and his brother obviously feel the pressure of their father’s legacy, but I love how they stepped out of that and even if his father wouldn’t have approved, Quinn was determined to do what he thought was right. Although Rashad was meant to be the main character revolving in the issue, I think Quinn was the most important, showing how the people on the outside reacted. For some reason, Quinn reminded me of that line from the song “How Far I’ll Go,” from Moana. The line that goes, “They’ll be satisfied if I play along, but the voice inside sings a different song. What is wrong with me?”
Spoony: I loved how Spoony was so determined to fight for what he believed in. No matter what he didn’t let anyone or thing get in his way of fighting for what he thought was right. However, I did notice that he did not take a moment to back away and focus on the people involved in the situation. For example, he was fighting even against his parents when he was trying to get his point across with the police brutality, but he didn’t stop to see how all this was affecting Rashad who had just gone through this trauma.
Jill: I loved how Jill, like Spoony and later on Quinn, went against their families to fight for what she believed in. Also, even when her parents and aunt was fighting her because she said that she was against Paul, she refused to admit that he was in the right.
Paul: The authors of this book did an impeccable job making me hate Paul but realize that this might be what some cops truly think is right. When we see Paul assume that Rashad was in the wrong, I hated him. I was like, “Who does this guy think he is?” That entire scene was gut-wrenching. And even though Paul continues to say that he was doing his job and that he was in the right, whether Rashad was innocent or not, I despised him. Later on though, when we hear about Rashad’s father and his incident with the kid earlier in his cop years, I hated Paul less. This story turned slightly from a white police brutality against black boys into almost an admittance that it’s not just white cops and black boys who are guilty. This added a whole new layer to the story.
The plot of this story was phenomenal. While the action ended after Rashad got beat up, I didn’t want to put the book down. I was very tempted to just read it through the night. The beginning where the authors stress that Rashad is a member of the ROTC and we see what an innocent kind butterfly he is, is so important and really helps to shape the story. I also love how we see both Quinn and Rashad as unsuspecting characters. Yes, they are growing up in a rough town, but they just assume that all of those names and stories on the news will never apply to them. However, the story was so well crafted to show that these things on the news can apply to you faster than a blink of an eye.
This book started out so quickly. We got an introduction to our characters and then, boom! Conflict. I think this is because all of the character development had to happen after the incident and who they were before wasn’t important. Normally reading, I get through the first thirty pages and I don’t have much exciting going on. But reading this book, I decided that on page 23 when everything implodes, I had to do a review so I could explode on all of my thoughts.
It’s always really hard to describe the plot, normally because there isn’t anything that grabs my attention that needs to be immediately brought to attention. But in this book, there was so much going on that all of it needs to be brought to attention.
I loved how when we were reading from Rashad’s point of view, the grammar wasn’t all correct. For example, he used the word “good” when it should have been “well,” and it added another layer to the story of how young this kid was. Also, when reading about high school and college kids, you never see the incorrect way of speaking and the “ums” and the “likes.”
Normally dialogue bothers me a bit when it is excessive, but it was so necessary for this story and I am very glad none of it was cut out. This entire story was relayed through stories and emotions that could not have been replicated if we didn’t get the blatant shove in the face that these were the facts and these are the effects. Sure, not everything was clearly obvious, but I loved how the authors did nothing to skirt around the edges and lightly touch on the issues. They dove in like they had just found an oasis in the middle of a dessert.
I loved the switching of views. I think it was really important in this book to see how it affected not only the victim but also the people around him. I think this book really showed how something like this would actually go down in our society. I know if I were Quinn, I’d probably react the same way.
My favorite part was definitely when I could see the change in Quinn. When I could see that he was realizing this was his problem and he had an opportunity to stand up and make a difference, I was proud of him like a mother would be. His change and ability to step away from everyone else pressuring him, I was so happy.
Least Favorite Part:
My least favorite part was definitely when Paul’s family threw the party. Now I don’t mean least favorite part because of the writing or because it was boring. Actually, this part was extremely enthralling. I hated how the characters reacted. The family threw a party to try and distract from the fact that their son had done something so wrong that it was on national news. I hated how they acted like everything was okay and would smooth over.
Most Memorable Part While Reading:
Pg 23; Holy cheese balls! What the heck just happened! I knew from reading the description of the book that all this was going to go down, but I didn’t expect it to be so fast. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that affected me so fast as this one did. Wow. I can’t even explain how I feel. It was so intense. Then, we had Rashad on the ground and the only words were “Please. Don’t. Kill me.” And I felt genuine fear for him.
So thank you all for reading my short review of All American Boys. This review was written while and after I read the book, so it was all fresh in my mind. If you have any recommendations for how I can improve my reviews, please let me know. I’d love to get better.
After all this, everyone, have a lovely day.
Remember, you are beautifully and wonderfully made.
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