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Reynolds, Jason.
New York : Atheneum, 2015

(7 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
Booktalk #1

When Rashad is falsely accused of stealing a bag of chips, he is dragged into the street and badly beaten by a white police officer. The police officer has been a big brother to Quinn since his father died. Even though Quinn witnessed the attack, he’s torn. Rashad is in the hospital and his friends, who are on the basketball team with Quinn, are struggling with what happened. When Rashad is absent again today is spray painted on the sidewalk in front of the school, the students and the community begin to divide. In alternating chapters, we hear from Rashad and Quinn as they consider what to do or not do about what happened. This story is very current, often uncomfortable, and may very well challenge your beliefs. 
(Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Program, 2017)

Booktalk #2

“Another thug was taken off the streets today!”  is the story told by the media.  “Of course the kid is claiming to be innocent.  It’s what they all say!” are the words whispered behind everyone’s hand.   But Quinn, who was outside the store that day and witnessed the beating of Rashad, a black kid who attends his school, knows the truth and it is not being told.  It just so happens that the police officer who beat Rashad is Quinn’s best friend’s brother and his lifetime mentor.  Will Quinn be able to step up and do the right thing even if it means losing his best friend and being the factor that puts his mentor in prison?  Two American boys, one black and one white, must face the truth and accept that the decisions made will change the world.  (Oklahoma Sequoyah Award, 2017)

Booktalk #3

We have all witnessed people being bullied or mistreated… we all react in different ways… I would like to believe that if I had lived in Germany when Hitler came to power that I would have protested the mistreatment of Jewish people and that I would have helped save as many Jewish people as I could. When I watch yet another video of a young black male being killed, I honestly believe I would stand up for him. All American Boys is about an all too familiar topic today, police brutality… Rashad stops at a convenience store and although innocent, ends up being beaten to within an inch of his life. Quinn witnesses the brutal beating by Officer Galuzzo, but is conflicted because the officer is a close family friend and a father figure to him. Both boys who are considered “all American boys” are faced with harsh realities of life and are forced to make some very hard decisions about the type of people they want to be. What may seem to be very obvious decisions for many of us, can be difficult for other people. Rashad must decide if he wants to continue to stand up and be the face of a protest against police brutality and Quinn must decide if he is going to stand up for Rashad or look the other way. (Prepared by: Kristen Anderson, Riverside High School, , South Carolina Young Adult Book Award, 2018)

Booktalk #4

Rashad, a black teen, is falsely accused of stealing and severely beaten by a white police officer. Quinn, a white classmate of Rashad’s, witnesses the beating. To make matters worse, Quinn recognizes the policeman as Paul, his best friend’s older brother. Paul has always been like a surrogate brother to Quinn. Quinn struggles with what has happened to Rashad. Quinn and Rashad are not particularly close friends, but Paul is like family to Quinn. It is very hard to know that someone close to him could do something so brutal. But Quinn never questions that what happened was wrong. This book illuminates the ways that racism still exists and examines the ways people unknowingly participate, even if it's just by staying silent sometimes. Everyone should read this book. And then talk about it. (Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers 2017-2018 Nominees )

Booktalk #5

Two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension. A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement? (New Hampshire Flume Teen Award, 2018)

Booktalk #6

Black. Lives. Matter. Those three words can cause mixed reactions when people hear them. In this story two families with former and current police officers collide over a convenience store incident that takes them all by surprise. Quinn is the witness and the person caught in the middle. Quinn sees everything unfold. He has no idea what to do about it. Quinn, and an unnamed lady in the store, know what happened. But will they be able to come forward with the truth? Rashad is the victim. He was beaten senseless by a beloved police officer. Rashad’s Dad as a former police officer knows that there can be breaking points, regrets, and misunderstandings. And now Rashad’s Dad is on the other side only wanting his son to recover. Every living being has a fight or flight instinct which doesn’t allow time for analysis and reflection. This book, however, allows the reader to carefully consider all points of view with the issue of excessive force from police. I think the amazing co-authors of this powerful story are offering society a possible solution; take a step back and look at all sides of the story. And talk about it. (Kathleen Dunbar, Teacher-Librarian Eastlake High School Library, Sammamish, Washington, Evergreen Teen Book Award 2017-18)

Booktalk #7

All Rashad wanted was to buy a bag of chips at the local convenience store. What should have been an everyday moment turns violent and life-altering when Rashad is accused of shoplifting and subsequently beaten by a white police officer. Rashad’s classmate, Quinn, witnesses the whole encounter, but is afraid to speak up because the police officer in question has been like a father to him his whole life. (Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award, Rosie Award, 2018)

SUBJECTS:     African Americans -- Fiction.
                        Police brutality -- Fiction.
                        Race relations -- Fiction.
                        Racial profiling in law enforcement -- Fiction.
                        Racism -- Fiction.

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