Jason Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author who writes poetry and novels for young adult and middle-grade readers. Reynolds’ books are also multiple award winners. My latest read, As Brave as You, was a Kirkus Award Finalist, Schneider Family Book Award Winner, and Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book.
As Brave as You is the story of a multigenerational family and their ideas of love and bravery across those generations. Genie and his big brother, Ernie, are spending the summer with her grandparents all the way in Virginia. Their parents are driving them from Brooklyn all the way down to the country in Virginia. Genie has never done anything like this before, so he’s both excited and nervous. When the family finally arrives in Virginia, Genie is surprised. His grandpa is blind! Grandpop can’t see, but he covers it so well, especially by wearing a pair of cool Ray-Bans.
Being an ever-curious kid, Genie has so many questions for Grandpop so he just starts asking whatever pops into his head. The more Genie learns, the more he thinks that Grandpop is the bravest person he knows. The only flaw: Grandpop NEVER leaves the house. Grandpop finally allows Genie to go into his secret room: a place filled to the brim with songbirds and plants. It’s a wonderful room that looks like the outside has been pulled inside. Genie starts to think if Grandpop is actually as brave as he presents.
Genie deals with complicated thoughts around bravery the closer it gets to Ernie’s fourteenth birthday. Grandpop has a tradition for all the men who turn fourteen: in order to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks this is incredibly cool, but Ernie isn’t really interested at all. That also throws Genie’s idea of bravery into freefall. Is being a man really about proving something? Or is it about being responsible for your own decisions?
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