As Brave As You

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
As Brave As You Book Poster Image
Poignant summer adventure brims with family love and hope.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The story involves lessons of forgiveness, bravery, hope, and reconciliation that affect all members of the family, from the youngest to the oldest.

Positive Messages

The family unit is viewed in a positive light, unlike many middle school novels set in modern times. The story prominently features messages of hope and forgiveness and emphasizes the true definition of bravery.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both adults and kids serve as positive roles models -- not because they're perfect but through how they deal with their individual flaws and the mistakes they make. A minor character is a hypochondriac and germaphobe who refuses to leave the house; her daughter is kind and compassionate toward her while understanding that her fear of germs is irrational.


Incidents recounted as stories include tales of schoolyard fights in which kids are injured (with a black eye and other minor bruises); a man dying in a war; another man who, while dealing with PTSD, killed himself by jumping off a bridge; and another incident in which a man was burned to death in a house fire. The fire was retaliation for a petty theft. Kids are also taught to shoot guns at the age of 14 to defend themselves against possible violence. The only real-time violence involves a 14-year-old who's being taught to use a gun. The gun backfires and hits him the face, causing him to lose several teeth, bleed profusely, and need dental care. 


Teen romance with flirting and some adult relationship issues, including talk of divorce. An elderly couple playfully attempts to swat each other on the behind. A teen boy is warned not to get "mannish" with a man's daughter.


Some mild name-calling, including "stupid." Instead of swearing, people say, "What in the Sam Hill?" One use each of "pissed" and "PO'd."


Name brands such as Converse are mentioned for scene setting.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult are shown drinking alcohol and being drunk. One instance where kids are tricked into thinking they're going to drink alcohol, but it turns out to be nonalcoholic ginger beer. Adults are also shown smoking cigars.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAlison S. October 21, 2018


I'm a teacher of 5th graders, but taught 7th/8th grade English for years prior. I think this book is fine for mature 10 year old readers and those who enj... Continue reading
Adult Written bySusanVB August 4, 2018

Enjoyable family listen

We listened to this as a family and really enjoyed it. Funny, sweet, poignant intergenerational family relationships. It does deal with divorce tangentiallly,... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 10, 2020

May seem inappropriate to younger audiences

This story has a strong storyline and is interests the reader but also provides good morals. I think younger audiences may be a bit out of audience since it doe... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byPanicAtTheLyla November 17, 2019

Not the best book to show to 10 Year Olds.

I first read this book in the 5rd Grade in a Book Club my School did. It was a very sinple and funny book at first, and then there was GrandPop and his story. T... Continue reading

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate