We all have our favorite writers—Jenny Han, Shaun David Hutchinson, and Ellen Hopkins all come to mind. But there’s always room in our hearts, and on our bookshelves, for more writers with life-changing stories to tell.
With that in mind, I would like to introduce you Jason Reynolds.
You might have heard his name before. You might know him as the co-autho of All-American Boys, which he wrote with Brendan Kiely. And most recently, he wrote the YA novel Miles Morales, based on one of Marvel Comic’s celebrated teen heroes.
Here at Riveted we absolutely adore Jason Reynolds, and think you should, too. These are some reasons why you need to keep this prolific writer and his work on your radar.
He’s the Epitome of Cool
If only we could all be so effortlessly awesome in a black tee.
And kids love him (this is particularly cool as children are GREAT judges of character)!
He Stays Woke (and wants you to be, too!)
One theme you’ll notice in reading many of Jason Reynolds’s stories is the social hardships his characters face on top of the plot-related trials. Like many authors, he believes it is imperative for young people to see their authentic selves in the books that they read. His work, like that of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Sharon Draper, encourages young readers to participate in social engagement. Reynolds’ novel with Brendan Kiely, All-American Boys, explores the way police brutality can affect people who might live in the same community, but experience the world in vastly different ways. Check out the video below to hear what they have to say about the importance of this book:
He Writes Award-Winning Books
By the end of 2017, he will have more than ten novels published, and many of them have received starred reviews, and awards. He has earned so many different awards for his work, including the Coretta Scott King Award, the John Steptoe Award for New Talent, and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
But Reynolds absolutely has the chops to back up all this praise. Here’s a sneak peek from When I Was the Greatest:
“We walked up Fulton like three cool dudes, one of which was holding yarn. For some reason this particular day Fulton Street felt like Broadway, or Fifth Ave, one of those kind of streets. Not because anything on the street was different, because it wasn’t. Same old hood shops, and hustlers on the corner. People on pay phones and the smell of burnt halal meat and dog mess. No white people. At least not many. So it wasn’t actually like Broadway or Fifth Ave, but in my mind it just felt like we were walking high and mighty like I guessed they did on those streets. Like we were going to do something very important. Get haircuts for a very special event we’d been invited to. An exclusive night at Chateau MoMo.”
His Roots are in Poetry
Writing narratives is relatively new for Jason, but he’s been a poet from a young age. He refers to black poets and rappers in, like Yasiin Bey/Mos Def, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Ralph Ellison. Check out his poetry blog. And get ready, because his first YA told in verse, Long Way Down, comes out 10/24!
He Writes for Everyone
Jason has written books for both the Middle Grade and Young Adult age ranges, but they’re impactful stories that appeal to everyone.
If you’ve never read Jason’s work before, then you may not know what I mean when I say his messages and writing style transcend typical age ranges. Sure, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest a middle grader read one of his YA books because there may be some content that’s inappropriate for younger readers, but everyone everyone everyone who fits into the YA category and above will love both his YA and Middle Grade books. And I think that if you just read a sample of his work, you’ll know exactly why I’m saying this.
Luckily, his first novel, When I Was the Greatest, is a free read here on Riveted until August 14. It’s a moving story about three teenaged boys in Brooklyn. It’s a tale that shows how one night can change your life (and not always for the better) but it’s what you do in the aftermath that shows your community, and yourself, who you really are. Even though my childhood was different than the protagonist, Ali’s, I still understood so many of his hopes and fears as he navigates his place in his Brooklyn neighborhood of Bed-Stuy. I laughed, I cried, and I felt real gut-clenching fear as I read this book. So I picked up his other novels, and was not disappointed. Jason’s writing captures you in such a way that turning to the next chapter is an obligation. They’ll change you life.