Sunday, July 22, 2018

All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds (author), Brendan Kiely (author), Guy Lockard (narrator), Keith Nobbs (narrator)

Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781442398672, September 2015

Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins are students at the same high school, just typical high school kids. Quinn is a star on the school basketball team. Rashad's not an athlete, but several of his friends are on the team with Quinn.

Rashad is black and Quinn is white.

One day, Rashad stops at the local bodega to pick up a bag of chips. A white woman accidentally trips over him, knocking them both to the floor. A cop sees them, and Rashad's backpack on the floor where it fell open, and leaps to the conclusion that Rashad was shoplifting. He seizes and starts beating on Rashad.

Quinn doesn't see what happens inside the store, but he sees the aftermath, when the cop, Paul Gallucci, has Rashad down on the ground, his face ground into the pavement, beating on him even after he's handcuffed. There's another witness also, a woman who records the whole thing on the phone once they're outside.

The cop, Paul Gallucci, is a friend of Quinn's family, the man who has been in many ways a substitute father to him since his own father was killed in Afghanistan.

Rashad and Quinn each tell their own stories of the days that follow, with different narrators voicing them. For Rashad, much of that time is in the hospital, as he recovers from his injuries. He's painfully aware that he could easily be dead, and despite what his lawyer tells him, he's not convinced being innocent is going to get him acquitted of shoplifting and resisting arrest.

Quinn has to square what he saw with what he's always thought and felt about Paul Gallucci, and decide what he's going to do about it. Rashad also learns some painful truths about his own father, an ex-cop.

This is a fascinating and moving novel, examining very real issues that affect us all, whether we all realize it or not. Rashad and Quinn, their friends, and at least some of their families learn a great deal, and it is a genuinely powerful story.

Highly recommended.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library.