I picked this book up on a whim at the library as I raided the shelves, despite having several books already on hold. What can I say? I have always had a hard time controlling myself at the library.
As Brave As You is the story of two tween boys from Brooklyn who vacation with their grandparents in Virginia for a month of the summer as their parents try to repair their relationship with a solo trip to Jamaica. As to be expected, the boys get into all kinds of trouble and adventures in their new spot for the summer.
Jason Reynolds’ book, As Brave As You, is superb for a number of reasons. Reynolds writes with emotions lingering around each turn of the page, filling in the gaps between dialogue. Writing with emotions at a middle grade level, noting each character’s bodily sensations, is incredibly important for helping kids develop their own working knowledge of how their physical sensations express emotion and vice versa. I love that Ernie (the elder of the two), Genie (the younger of the two), and both of their grandparents go through a range of emotions throughout the story. Each emotion for each character comes out differently, and Reynolds gives readers a clear picture of what each emotion feels and looks like for each character. I loved that part of it.
Having grown up in a city and moved to the South for college, I have a special place in my heart for stories that talk about the transitions from city life to Southern country life. I want everyone to get to know the good and bad parts of the South as I had the chance to, and I have so much love in my heart for the South.
Genie’s curious little mind has him keeping track of nearly every question he can think of in a journal. Reynolds does an excellent job of removing the stigma around writing/journaling for boys with this little piece of personality, as Genie’s questions are funny and relatable. Genie himself is charming, and his character development is impressive.
All in all, I loved this book. From page one, I found myself wishing I could read it to the kids I teach in school, all fifth grade boys that I think would be able to relate to this story and find joy in the humor. And of course I love the stigma’s that this book breaks down simply, from Southern living, to race, to blindness, and so much more. I definitely plan to read more of Reynolds’ work.