A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This is a very literary book. The focus is on the interior life of the characters. There is some educational material in the background, such as discussion of financial and other issues families have when parents are ill with cancer.
Life: It's complicated. Friends can help you cope with hard or anxious times.
Positive Role Models
The stories are so universal to middle school that many readers will be able to imagine themselves in the characters' shoes. At the same time, the dialect signals that the characters are Black.
Violence & Scariness
Many descriptions of bullying and the pain it causes, with no specific negative consequences for the kids doing the bullying.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
An infatuation is described, with hopes and preparation for a romantic kiss.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, by Jason Reynolds (Long Way Down, As Brave as You), is a set of 10 interconnected short stories set in the context of kids walking home from school. It doesn't follow a conventional structure with a beginning, middle, and end. Each story can stand alone; together they add up to a bigger picture. This book, which was named a 2020 Coretta Scott King (Author) Honor Book, could be a good match for readers who get impatient with long chapter books, and also for advanced readers who can appreciate the literary qualities. There are many potentially distressing descriptions of bullying. A group of kids whose families have lost financial footing due to a parent's cancer form an entrepreneurial "gang" to steal change. One girl is grieving the death of her older sister.
Is It Any Good?
This poignant book captures the roller-coaster of emotions that go along with middle school life: humor, sadness, and fear all mixed up. Look Both Ways author Jason Reynolds is a gifted poet and novelist, a National Book Award finalist whose other awards include the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent, the John Newbery Medal, and the NAACP Image Award, to name just a few. Though this book is a work of prose, it works like poetry; every word and sentence is so densely packed that the meaning comes to life from images without a lot of action or plot.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.