Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

21490991: Title: The Boy in the Black Suit
Author: Jason Reynolds

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Book Summary:(via Goodreads) Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.

Characters: Matt, Mr. Ray, Love, Chris, Matt's dad

What I Loved: This book is one of those rare gems that I can recommend with equal confidence to both male and female students. Matt, his friendship with Chris and Mr. Ray, his struggles with awkwardness with girls, his romance with Love, the gritty urban setting... these are all things that will appeal to a variety of readers. Matt is the kind of guy you want to bring home to mom (or in my case--you would like your daughter to bring home to you). He's genuine and charismatic. His struggles are real. Some readers may read the plot summary and think, "ugh... not another book about someone dying of cancer." However, Matt's way of handling his mother's death--his moments of both strength and weakness--are unique. Mr. Ray's character was definitely my favorite, and the things that Matt learns from him are universal lessons. This was just simply, a wonderful, well-written story.

What I could have done without:.  The one thing that I struggle with when writing about this book or book talking it to students, is that it is difficult to really tell what happens in the story. A lot of things happen, but there is no arching climax. When Matt and Love find out that they are connected by a fateful night--a horrible event for both of them, the plot sort of reaches its peak, but there's no rush of adrenaline like a reader may experience with other books. Rather, this story is full of little vignettes or events that carry the plot along in a fast enough pace to keep you going.

Final Grade: B+

Review by Nicky

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