For Every One

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
For Every One Book Poster Image
Bold, blunt encouragement for dreamers pulls no punches.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Wise, clear-eyed encouragement for people of all ages pursuing dreams both practical and fantastical. Prefaced with passage by James Baldwin on validity of dreams and nurturing your interior life.

Positive Messages

Having a purpose is real and important, even if other people don't get it. It isn't always possible to achieve your dream, but making your dream come true might not be as important as what you learn in the pursuit. You are not obligated to accept and appreciate all advice offered -- if it doesn't resonate with you, it's OK to unburden yourself and set it aside. It's never too late to follow your passion. Perseverance is continuing the effort, not necessarily achieving the goal.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The narrator's voice is bluntly honest, offering no easy answers but warm and unrelenting support for anyone -- at any age -- wrestling with self-doubt and frustration while following their dream.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that For Every One is a stirring free-verse book by Jason Reynolds (The Boy in the Black Suit) about the frustration and rewards of pursuing your passion. Reynolds, who originally presented the poem at the 2011 opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, writes frankly about his own self-doubt and pain as he became a successful writer. He rejects any notion that he has advice or tips to share, and discourages readers from getting too caught up in realizing their dreams. Instead, Reynolds notes that the struggle itself is enriching, and offers compassion, empathy, and words he hopes might provide comfort and encouragement. As lonely as the road can seem, he offers reassurance that plenty of dreamers are following the same path.

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What's the story?

FOR EVERY ONE begins with Jason Reynolds' frank admission: "I got no answers." Addressing "Dear Dreamer," he begins by explaining that he's writing "from the inside," in the midst of uncertainty and not knowing how his story might turn out. The advice of experts proved useless, and he found no easy tricks for "making it" -- but he did realize that "making it" might not matter much. He did learn how it feels to struggle, despair, hope, and doubt. And he learned that he's far from alone. It takes faith to jump anyway, despite fear and uncertainty -- and support and understanding can help dreamers find the courage to make that leap.

Is it any good?

Kids hear lots of sunny platitudes about believing in their dreams, but Jason Reynolds gets honest in his book-length poem: Chasing dreams can be hard, lonely, confusing, infuriating -- and worth it. He describes For Every One as a letter he began writing years ago for himself, riddled with self-doubt and frustration. Now a successful author, Reynolds (As Brave As You) still isn't convinced he's "made it," but he's learned that feeling the passion is more important than the destination.

Reynolds writes vividly, using rich similes to describe his dream as a rabid beast that infected him in one section, and in another comparing it to a colicky baby: "Sometimes I think/ it needs to be changed./ Usually it just/ needs to be fed./ So I feed it everything/ I have./ And/ it feeds me everything/ I have." He may not have easy answers, but he has generous compassion fellow travelers will treasure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Jason Reynolds' admission in For Every One that "I got no answers." Was the poem helpful to you?

  • How do you find the courage and resolve to keep going when you're frustrated and burned out?

  • Think about a time you were unsure what to do and decided to "jump anyway." What happened? What did you learn from the experience?

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For kids who love poetry and coming-of-age stories

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