Book Review: THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT by Jason Reynolds

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Young Adult

Published January 2015


There is so much to say about this book – the writing, the setting, the characters – but first and foremost, I must say that from beginning to end, Jason Reynolds and The Boy in the Black Suit

kept me

held me

wouldn’t let me go

had me living in

THE FEELS

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I bought this book for my son’s library and underlined and left my notes everywhere because I couldn’t help myself – I want him to see where I was touched, stilled, literally brought to tears, where I laughed and fell in love with a character, where I simply smiled because the writing is just that. fucking. good.

For me, THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT is a love letter to Brooklyn – whose streets and characters and bodegas are so vivid and real and perfectly captured by Mr. Reynolds that I often felt like I was back on my old block in Bed Stuy – told through the eyes of Matt Miller, a high school kid coming to grips with the death of his mom and the downslide of his dad, just trying to hang on and make sense of life and death and loss and love. Helping him along the way are Chris, Mr. Ray, and Lovey, well-crafted, poignant characters, each playing their own, very unique roles in moving Matt forward one step at a time. The interactions between these folks are touching and funny and so damn life-affirming that you just know, someway, somehow, with this crew in his life, Matt will make it. There might be some tears and struggling, but he’s going to come out on the other end okay and that’s a great way to close the covers on a book. With a hopeful, possibly watery-eyed, smile on your face.

Towards the end of the story, Matt is gifted with a Sempervivum, a plant whose name originates from the latin roots semper and vivus and means “live forever.” That’s exactly what Jason’s characters will do with me – live forever.

If you haven’t yet read this book, if it’s not on your TBR, or already on your bookshelf, do yourself a favor and go to the bookstore or Amazon or the library and snag a copy. Now. This is a must-read, a classic, a story everyone should experience because it’s just that damn good.

So thank you, Jason, for being fierce and amazing and for not writing boring books and for giving us Matt and Chris and Mr. Ray and Lovey.

SEMPERVIVUS!!


713PUDnMGrL._UX250_   Jason Reynolds is a graduate of The University of Maryland, College Park. He has been reviewed and profiled in The Washington Post, NPR books, Kirkus, Hornbook, School Library Journal, WNYC, Publisher’s Weekly, Poets & Writers, Gawker, mentioned as a standout in the Wall Street Journal, AM New York, Ebony Magazine, was awarded as a top book of the year by the New York Public Library system, and was the recipient of 2015 Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award for New Talent.

Reynolds is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing For Young People MFA Program, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT by Jason Reynolds

  1. I just went to show your review to Aviva. She said, “Oh, I’m reading that,” in her typically all it’s-no-big-deal-mama kind of way. Apparently, her teacher insisted she’d love it. Now I can’t wait for her to finish so that it can be my turn. And I so love that you wrote notes for your son to find.

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