All American Boys by Jason Reynolds/Brendan Kiely (Book Review)


Publisher: Atheneum
Page Count
: 316

There is so much to say about this book, yet here I am, not even knowing where I should start. I am not saying that police brutality doesn’t exist in my country at all (racism and racial profiling is a global issue and I am not so naive to believe it doesn’t exist where I live), but it always feels different when it takes place in the US. Something about their police seems more trigger-happy and sadly there are more frequent occurrences of brutality. Cases from there even make it into our news from time to time and it twists my gut. I went into this book fully prepared to get my heart broken and All American Boys DEFINITELY delivered!

Despite it taking some time until I really connected with the characters and their voices, I felt they were distinct and authentic. A black and a white protagonist written by a black and a white author, it just seems like a good choice to have the story from various perspectives. It didn’t even take until the end of the first chapter for me to have cold shivers running down my back. There was just something so wrong about the situation – you see what happens, step by step, you know that Rashad was not one bit at fault, yet there is absolutely nothing you can do.

Bildergebnis für unfair gif

This novel is extremely timely. It tackles not only police brutality, but also racial bias, integrity, social media as investigatory tools as well as white privilege. Rashad and Quinn both face struggles, admittedly very different ones, but Quinn has the luxury of walking away. While Rashad will have to face court and see the scars as a daily reminder of what happened, Quinn could have chosen to be a silent bystander only, his privilege would have allowed for it, and I am so very glad he didn’t. The lives of those boys were intertwined and altered forever. There were a lot of terrible things happening in this book, but at the same time there is so much beauty in seeing people stand up for each other (friends and strangers alike), Rashad processing what happened through art and Quinn’s courage to fight for what he believes. Black people have to face injustice and pain on a daily basis and they should not have to carry that weight, it’s upon white people to use their privilege and speak up.

I very much doubt that you would go out of this book the way you came in. It effortlessly describes the struggle of many people these days and the work we still have to do. In hindsight, having had a couple weeks to think about it, there is one more thing I would have wanted from the book – consequences. There are far too few instances where there were consequences in real life, so it makes sense and is actually very realistic not to show them, but I wanted that hope somehow. Obviously, the events rattled something and had an effect, but we never get to see how the case is handled at court or how/if Paul gets punished. I very much doubt that I would have wanted several more chapters, because it had a nearly perfect ending, but a quick summary of the following months in a short epilogue? I would have loved that.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! A very important story that made it onto my must-read list.


Will you be picking up All American Boys? Have you read it already?

11 thoughts on “All American Boys by Jason Reynolds/Brendan Kiely (Book Review)

  1. That book sounds like quite a difficult read if I’m being honest, and I have no idea how I’d feel about reading something that makes me feel so, helpless? Though I do think it’s such an important story to be told, I guess it’s one I have to be ready for, all of these emotions haha. This is a beautiful review,Kat 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, it definitely isn’t an easy read. I feel like this should be something that people read at school, sort of like an introduction to the Black Lives Matter movement. It has such a strong message (even if the writing isn’t always as impressive) and it could do a lot of good, simply because it makes people think but it also shows different sides. I would have liked a tiny bit more resolution in the end, but it sure had the desired effect on me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so intimidated by this book. I know it will be incredibly emotional for me and quite challenging to get through. I’m also glad that you reviewed this, Kat! We need to see more books like this which are important stories we shouldn’t hide from. Personally, I don’t like being emotionally distraught in my free time. But it is something we all should face. Great review! I’m super impressed with your emotional honesty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am very glad you liked my review! I understand that you don’t want to go through so much emotional turmoil in your free time. For me this is very much a mood thing, but ever since I found out about this book, I just knew that I HAD to read it. As you said, it’s a story we shouldn’t hide from, but it was painful nonetheless. I really wouldn’t blame you, if you said it was too much right now.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I came across this book on Amazon and it called my attention so much!! I have never read a review and yours makes me want to actually buy the book (I had it on my wish list haha) just saying that your review and impression of the books proves that it is really good! The criticism was evident from the synopsis but your point of view of standing together totally adds value to buying this book.

    Thank you very much for your words and for sharing! I hope you could check my blog too! :3

    Liked by 1 person

      • I have seen it around! but I have never actually read what is it about! I will keep it in mind! I will even added to my list (Goodreads) in a few!

        Thank you! I think one that I want to read before will be To Kill a Mockingbird…

        Thank you for the recommendation!

        Liked by 1 person

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