Author: Brendan Kiely & Jason Reynolds
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Social Injustice
Date Published: September 29, 2015
Retail Price: $10.58
Page Count: 316
Rashad is absent again today.
That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…
Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.
And that’s how it started.
And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’sgot to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.
Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.
Cuz that’s how it can end. (Goodreads)
The most I can say… Is that I thought about a lot of things while reading this. That caused me to cry a lot after finishing the book. I sobbed because of how much this story hit me. Although it is a work of fiction, there is nothing but the truth within it. Every word and every thought process that goes on is just so real. You live in the week of an act of social injustice.
I want to start off with a few things that bothered me throughout the story (besides the officer and the whole incident). One of them being that it seemed a little underwhelming. But maybe it was meant to be that way. Yes, the story was very big in its way it was supposed to be, but somehow to me, it felt almost meh at times when it wasn’t super focused on the main idea. But every scene did play a good part to what was going on, even if it wasn’t directly connected. I don’t know why I felt this way at times but I did.
Now, in this story we have two points of view; Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins. Even though we only have those two, we get so many more, almost without realizing we do. Since the subject going on is so… sensitive and so easily able to be argued, we have to hear everybody’s opinion and side to really get the full affect, so that’s what happens. It’s really resourceful due to the fact that every voice adds so much to this situation. There is also confusion and indecsiviness which I am very glad for because it happens. This is a very real story to read about a very real conflict.
The writing is just like the characters would sound like. If you like getting sucked into the character’s life and the world surrounding them, this is definitely the book for you. The way each author perfectly tells you what they want the characters to sound like is easily laid out in the way the characters describe things in their thoughts and how they talk out loud. It adds to the realism affect. Its even in the synopsis! I know some people don’t like this because sometimes the characters speak with improper grammar and it can sound bad but I like this because I can fully become the character, even in their thoughts.
Even though there is a very serious situation going on, the normal aspects of a teenage life go on, for one of our main characters at least. They still have school, its not blown totally out of the picture like I’ve seen some stories do. And things go on at school like it really would happen.
Side characters mean so much to the plot and the concept. Basically, there are so many side characters that they have to be important. They are apart of that concept that we have so many different point of views to bring on story together. They weren’t so developed that they were basically main, but they were enough that we understood why they were taking whatever side and how they felt about what was going on.
I don’t know if this is a spoiler or not but I don’t like how glorified English was. In the end, he didn’t do much besides what everyone else did. Yeah, there is always the kid in the school that everyone knows and loves, the popular kid. The kid that does the best in a sport, the ultimate jock. But why in a story in like this? Yes, it is a high school element, but I feel as if it could have been left out or at least toned down. A lot of it was, I felt, about English and how good he was and how popular he was when it wasn’t necessary to bring him up. He, English, is a good kid and probably very pretty but his character could have been died down just a bit.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – page 290
“‘Never apologize when there’s nothing to be sorry for.'” – page 150
“He wasn’t strong because he wasn’t afraid. No, he was strong because he kept doing it even though he was afraid.” – page 289
“‘I’m going to live in fear of them for at least one day to say that I don’t think that’s right.'” – page 290