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As Brave As You Paperback – May 9, 2017
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Reynolds's engaging middle grade debut stars 11-year-old African American Genie Harris, an inveterate worrywart who considers Google his best friend, and his older brother Ernie, who is well on his way to being a cool dude (sunglasses and all). The born and bred Brooklynites are to spend a month with their grandparents in rural Virginia while their parents take a long overdue vacation and work out their marital problems. It is only after the boys are left in their grandfather's care that they realize that he is blind. They are also surprised to learn that they are expected to do chores and follow their grandmother's strict rules-and that it is possible to exist (sort of) without the Internet. While Ernie crushes on the girl who lives at the base of the hill, Genie writes down his many burning questions so he doesn't forget them and gets to know his proud and fiercely independent grandfather. Genie barrages Grandpop with questions about his past and present abilities and about the quirky aspects of the household, especially his "nunya bidness" room, his harmonica playing, and how Grandpop might not be able to see but still packs a pistol. As the languid days unfold, the boys learn about country life and the devastating loss of the elder Harrises' son during Desert Storm and their estrangement from their living son, the boys' father. Grandpop Harris is a complicated, irascible character, full of contradictions and vulnerabilities, the least of which is his lack of vision. Reynolds captures the bond that Grandpop and Genie form in a tender, believable, and entertaining way, delivered through smart and funny prose and sparkling dialogue. VERDICT A richly realized story about life and loss, courage and grace, and what it takes to be a man. Although a tad lengthy, it is easy reading and will be appreciated by a broad audience.-Luann Toth, School Library Journalα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
"This pitch-perfect contemporary novel gently explores the past's repercussions on the present." - "Kirkus Reviews," starred review
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Genie and Ernie, brothers from Brooklyn, go to spend the summer with their Grandparents in rural Virginia. They're in for a lot of changes. No cell phone reception, chores, and getting to know their grandparents who they only know from phone calls before. Ernie, the elder, is brave, confident, and cool. Genie is intellectual, perpetually anxious, and afraid. The biggest change is perhaps dealing with their grandfather, who is (to their surprise) totally blind, and perhaps a little crazy. But Genie quickly makes a close bond with his Grandfather, while Ernie is bonding with the pretty girl down the hill.
The plot explores fear and bravery, guilt and forgiveness. Every little element of the book has meaning. Jason Reynolds crafts a beautiful story, perfectly paced, with likable and believable characters. Though written for young adults, I would think most adults who enjoy good fiction would love it as well. I certainly did.
I also like the idea of opening up discussions about what it is "to be a man," cultural and gender biases, and mutual respect for one another. There are strong examples and non-examples throughout the book. The fact that this is an African-American family is a bonus because of our need to place diverse books on those shelves, but it never felt contrived or an especially important part of the story. Aren't we all humans, after all?
Jason Reynolds is a highly-regarded author, and for good reason. I look forward to book talking this one in the fall to my readers.
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