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As Brave As You
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 2017 Coretta Scott King (Author) Honor book As Brave as You, by Jason Reynolds (The Boy in the Black Suit, All American Boys) makes his middle-grade fiction debut in this compelling story of two brothers, age 10 and 13, whose parents drive them from their home in Brooklyn, New York, to spend a few weeks in the summer with their grandparents in rural Virginia. The parents are "having problems" in their marriage and are taking time alone to work on them, partly on vacation in Jamaica. The story involves some heavy issues, including the death of a family member, long-term grief, mental illness, post-traumatic-stress disorder, discussion of an elderly relative's blindness, divorce, and gun use. Learning to shoot a gun is mainly presented as a right of passage in country life, so families should be prepared to discuss gun safety. This would be a great book for parents and kids to read together.
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What's the story?
Genie and his older brother Ernie are spending four weeks at their grandparents' home in rural Virginia. It's a place so distant from their home in Brooklyn, New York, that the stars seem to multiply, the sun seems hotter, and the sky looks bigger. It's also a place without cell phone coverage and Wi-Fi. Genie is always full of questions, so many questions that he writes them in his notebook. But he already knows why they have to go -- his parents are trying to save their marriage. So while they head off to Jamaica, Genie is stuck picking peas with his brother (yuck!) and trying to figure out the mystery of his strange grandfather, why his dad won't speak to his father, what's the story behind the creepy house in the woods, and how to be brave when you're scared out of your mind. He suspects he won't find those answers on Google.
Is it any good?
Endearing, relevant, and enthralling, this novel offers a glimpse into the lives of one family in the lazy days of summer and captures the natural shifting dynamic that occurs in families over time. The boys rely on each other when the grown-up world gets to be too much, and their relationship and Genie's openness help the family to heal long-standing rifts. Author Jason Reynolds is a master storyteller. He creates characters that are so real, readers forget they don't actually know Genie, Ernie, and their grandfather.
Reynolds is not afraid to dig into topics others shy away from, yet somehow, in AS BRAVE AS YOU, he balances the weight of those topics with the natural lightheartedness of youth. Genie's character and his observations are funny and insightful and straddle the line between precociousness and typical 11-year-old (mis)understandings. This is a great family read.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about spending time without being connected to electronic devices. Brothers Genie and Ernie almost go crazy without cell phone coverage and an Internet connection -- at first. What could you do in four weeks without a computer and cell phones?
Family members in As Brave as You Are withdraw from one another, give each other the silent treatment, and confront their problems. Which way of coping seems most effective? Does your family have "rules of engagement" for working through problems?
Ernie and Genie learn a lot from their grandfather and grandmother. What life lessons or skills have you learned from other members of your family besides your parents?
- Author: Jason Reynolds
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Atheneum
- Publication date: May 3, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 18
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Awards: ALA Best and Notable Books, Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors
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