Book Review: The Boy in the Black Suit

So I haven’t posted in a while. I have just been a bit busy lately, and then somehow I seemed to have misplaced a week. I think 2 snow days plus hanging out with author Chelsea Cain last weekend plus Spring Forward really threw me off! But I have written a review for you today! And it’s about a GREAT book! Check it out!

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

Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Diverse Fiction, Standalone

Published: January 6th, 2015 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Hardcover, 272 pages

How I Got This Book: Checked it out from the library

Why I Picked It Up?: I read the description of this book a few months ago and immediately knew I wanted to read it! This is a contemporary realistic read with an African-American teenage boy, written by an African-American male author. I knew I just HAD to read this.

Book Jacket Blurb: “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.”

Thoughts:

The Boy in the Black Suit is a much-needed story in YA lit. This book does a lot of things right, and because of that I fell in love with it immediately. Here is a short list of what I really loved and appreciated.

  • This is a real story. Everything about this story felt real and authentic, from the characters to the setting to the plot. Matt is the boy who sits next to you in class; he is not a character that is so far away from you. He is right there with you, and his pain is real, and you feel it with him. I was completely invested in this story and seeing Matt learn to live with his grief.
  • The relationships were authentic. Each of Matt’s relationships progress in a very authentic way. His relationship with his father felt so genuine from both sides, and I felt their grief in such a real way. And the way that Matt and Lovey’s relationship develops is authentic and real–no instalove, just good old fashioned friendship first, complete with attitude and snark. It is just refreshing!
  • This book celebrates diversity in a way that feels authentic. Seeing a story with diverse characters living their life is something that just felt refreshing. With this story there is no stereotyping–every aspect of this story felt authentic, true, and 100% relatable. This is such an honest look at a teenage boy who is grieving the loss of his mother and trying to find peace wherever he can, period. It’s a great story, period. I think that readers will appreciate the emotional journey of Matt’s story, and teenage African-American boys will appreciate seeing themselves in a story that isn’t about “the bad boy.” This is a real story about a real boy who represents readers who are often ignored in YA lit.
  • Bonus: There is a scene in this story where two characters are playing the card game War, and that scene was so special to me. It reminded me of the many hours I spent playing War with my Granddad. When I finished that scene, I put the book down and spent some time in remembrance of that special man in my life. When a book strikes such a resonate chord with me, it finds a special place in my heart. And that is where The Boy in the Black Suit resides now.

Jason Reynolds is an up-and-coming unique voice in Young Adult literature who needs to be included in any library collection. This story is just lovely. 🙂

My Bookshelf Rating:

4shelfA Fourth Shelf Book!

A quiet, understated story about learning to deal with grief and loss. I found Matt’s story to be real and his emotions to be real. His relationships with the people in his life are sweet and much-needed, from the family friend Mr. Ray to his best friend Chris to the girl he meets. Definitely worth the read. A diverse book from a diverse author!

For Middle School or High School Libraries.

Love and Reese’s Eggs,
Jennifer

 

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