Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Children's Book Week: Review of As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

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Synopsis: "When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally.

Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck and—being a curious kid—Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he covers it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans).

How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house—as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into—a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out—he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all.

Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his fourteenth birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder—is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?"

My Review: After hearing Jason Reynolds speak at the Boston Teen Author Festival last year, I really wanted to pick up one of his books but super hero wasn't my thing (at the time his new release was Miles Morales); so I was intrigued by this book and decided to give it a shot. I was very pleasantly surprised, often I struggle with Middle Grade contemporary and connecting with the characters, but it wasn't the case with this one. The two brothers are taken from their home for a summer vacation with their grandparents, but there wasn't a lot of whining or complaining like you often get. The setting was vivid as were all the characters, each was unique and well rounded. The way the lessons were learned and conveyed in this story is so much like some of my own upbringing so was very relatable in that aspect. There was a touch of romance, though it was mostly just an attraction, and it doesn't take over the story, I really appreciated how the focus was able to remain on the dynamics of the family and the way the learn and relate with one another. It was definitely a read I would recommend.

My Rating: I was rather pleasantly surprised with this one, I love the familial connections and the way the issues are worked through.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws!

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