Book Review: Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin
Prepare yourself for something unlike anything: A smash-up of art and text for teens that viscerally captures what it is to be Black. In America. Right Now. Written by #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jason Reynolds.
Jason Reynolds and his best bud, Jason Griffin had a mind-meld. And they decided to tackle it, in one fell swoop, in about ten sentences, and 300 pages of art, this piece, this contemplation-manifesto-fierce-vulnerable-gorgeous-terrifying-WhatIsWrongWithHumans-hope-filled-hopeful-searing-Eye-Poppingly-Illustrated-tender-heartbreaking-how-The-HECK-did-They-Come-UP-with-This project about oxygen. And all of the symbolism attached to that word, especially NOW.
And so for anyone who didn’t really know what it means to not be able to breathe, REALLY breathe, for generations, now you know. And those who already do, you’ll be nodding yep yep, that is exactly how it is.
Usually I review books I’m sent for consideration. I review books that I’m worried will get overlooked. I generally write reviews for books well before they actually come out. BUT. I picked this up from the library and wanted to write a quick note about it not because of any of those reasons but because of how innovative this book is. I like things that are different. I like things that break with tradition, that appeal because of how unusual they are, that make you rethink something. This beautiful book spoke to me on all those levels. Reading it felt like reading someone’s diary, like reading a zine. I really think that for many readers, if they were to take this off the shelf, they would be surprised and amazed at what they would find once they opened the book. The stream-of-consciousness observations about what the narrator is observing—the news, the death of George Floyd, police violence, protests, Covid—and how it affects his family may make readers flip quickly through the spare sentences, but Griffin’s art is telling as much if not more of the story. Taken together, the words and art are powerful and create a rhythm, a breathing, a heartbeat that will draw readers in and change how they think a book or even a story “should” be. Deceptively simple and deeply affecting.
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Publication date: 01/11/2022
Age Range: 12 – 18 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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