Saturday, November 2, 2019

Review: Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

by Jason Reynolds
Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Tween Contemporary
ages 10 - 14
208 pages

From National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds comes a novel told in ten blocks, showing all they different directions a walk home can take.

This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen. They were all too busy—

Talking about boogers.
Stealing pocket change.
Wiping out.
Braving up.
Executing complicated handshakes.
Planning an escape.
Making jokes.
Lotioning up.
Finding comfort.
But mostly, too busy walking home.

Jason Reynolds conjures ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings, and brilliantly weaves them into one wickedly funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life.


I've read a few books from Jason Reynolds and have long become a fan...although his writing doesn't even fall into my usually favorite genre. And that says a lot. Every character and every situation leaves a lasting impression, one that touches the heart and means plenty of food for thought.

When school is over, kids are freed from the classroom and halls, but this means different things for different kids. Some are afraid of dogs, others of sick parents, and others need to find tricks to get by. Each tale is somewhat interlinked in so far that some of the characters are mentioned or appear in more than one situation, but each one tells a very individual story. Everyone faces life from a different angle with different challenges and hopes. This collection makes that clear.

There aren't many writers who can start a tale with a booger, change it into a philosophical debate between kids, and have the entire thing roll beside a very sobering sickness. Every day banter mixes with candor and harshness, while still holding the right amount of humor to make it almost sweet. The kids in these stories come across naturally and honestly. Their views on life are humorous even when they face situations which hit quite the opposite. It's fun to read and yet, forces the reader to think. This isn't only a book for tweens but for slightly older readers as well.

And here he is...

Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author, a Newberry Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, National Book Award Honoree, a Kirkus Award winner, a two-time Walter Dan Myers Award winner, an NAACP Image AWard Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King honors, The America Booksellers Association's 2017 and 2018 spokesperson for Indies First, his many books include When I Was the Greatest, Boy in the Black Suit, All American Boys (cowritten with Brendan Kiely), As Brave as You, For Every One, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), and Long Way Down, which received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor. He lives in Washington, DC. You can find his ramblings at

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