Showing both sides of the law in ‘All American Boys’

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Spencer Litteral

All American Book. As she holds the Lincoln Award book, All American Boys, Sadie Scott can't help but smile knowing how good it will be from all the hype. "I think it's important to have a book that explores two different perspectives, especially when it's a controversial issue like this," says Scott.

Spencer Litteral, Reporter

Have you ever been on the wrong side of the law, even when you weren’t in the wrong? How about seeing all of that go down and only be able to watch it all happen? Well, that is what is happening to Rashad and Quinn, respectively, in the midst of the modern day race war, depicted in All American Boys by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds.

The story depicts an upstanding African-American adolescent, Rashad, who’s just trying to avoid fighting with his father and become an artist, but ends up being in the wrong place at the wrong time. After school, he stops by a store to grab a snack, and a cop mistakes his actions for shoplifting, arrests him, and after subduing him, continues to pummel him. On the other hand, you have Quinn. Quinn is the kid who had a war hero father, and who everyone sees the same great qualities in, everyone that is except for him. He saw the entire event go down and his first reaction was to run.

The story gives insight into the two sides of the world we live in today when a situation like this occurs. The first being the victim and how their family would react, and the other seeing how a family can support one of their own through anything. It gives you everything from Rashad’s older brother saying, “I don’t care what Dad says, this ain’t right. It just ain’t right,” to where the cops younger brother is yelling at his best friend, Quinn, “Paul was just trying to help someone inside the store. That’s what he says.”

All American Boys makes a strong case for why it was nominated for a Lincoln Award: Teen Reader’s Choice. The book had a strong timeline, and although being written by two different writers, the book flowed together nicely. The added days of the week to help your understanding when details are going down was a nice touch. I did not, however, like how the book seemed to focus on Quinn a lot more towards the beginning of the novel, rather than Rashad. The book does a nice job at making you feel close and connected with the characters as well. In the end, the book was very well constructed and flows well between the two characters, as well as authors. I give it an 8.5 /10 stars.