Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

When I Was the Greatest

Rate this book
In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head—even if you’re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen.

A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don’t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing.

Nah, not his thing. Ali’s got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there’s a dude looking for trouble—and, somehow, it’s always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy’s gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it’s all small potatoes; it’s not like anyone’s getting hurt.

And then there’s Needles. Needles is Noodles’s brother. He’s got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It’s cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn’t mean anything by it.

Yeah, it’s cool…until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be…somewhere they never should've been—where the people aren't so friendly, and even less forgiving.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published January 7, 2014

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Jason Reynolds

79 books8,733 followers
Jason Reynolds is an American author of novels and poetry for young adult and middle-grade audience. After earning a BA in English from The University of Maryland, College Park, Jason Reynolds moved to Brooklyn, New York, where you can often find him walking the four blocks from the train to his apartment talking to himself. Well, not really talking to himself, but just repeating character names and plot lines he thought of on the train, over and over again, because he’s afraid he’ll forget it all before he gets home.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,039 (30%)
4 stars
3,073 (45%)
3 stars
1,343 (19%)
2 stars
222 (3%)
1 star
80 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,089 reviews
Profile Image for Kellee Moye.
2,451 reviews426 followers
March 15, 2015
I first want to address the cover. I have read and heard teachers/reviewers mention that this cover is inappropriate for schools (and also that it is misleading); however, once you read the book, the cover is perfection. The cover isn't about violence. I think it is about finding a way to be above violence which is what Ali, Noodles, and Needles are trying to do.

When I Was the Greatest is about Ali. Ali lives in Bed Stuy, New York where violence and drugs run rampant; however, Ali's focus is his family and boxing. But then there is Noodles. Noodles is a ticking time bomb, but he is also Ali's best friend. But being near a bomb puts you in danger.

Ali's mom Doris and his sister Jazz may be two of my favorite family members in a YA novel. Jazz is so sassy! She is the brains behind all of the nicknames, and has such funny stories behind each of them. Doris, on the other hand, is very serious, but she is a rock. She ensures that her children are respectful and have the foundation to be able to succeed.

This book is also so important because of Needles. It shows acceptance, honor, and respect are more important than anything. Including reputation.

When I Was the Greatest is character driven and is about the boys (which is where the "misleading" cover complaint comes in), but you will fall in love with these boys and will want to know what happens to them.
Profile Image for Steph Sinclair.
461 reviews11.1k followers
December 23, 2014
If you are looking for an audiobook that features a diverse group of characters and awesome narrator, this is it! When I Was the Greatest was a pleasant surprise for me. It was real and honest and made me remember my own childhood. It's always nice to be able to see yourself in literature, and since it doesn't happen that often for me, reading this book was like drinking a big cup of nostalgia. I totally cracked the biggest grin when Ali mentioned that he had to have a fresh pair of kicks before going to the party. I loved how the entire neighborhood looked out for Needles, who has Tourette Syndrome. There was just so many feel good moments in When I Was the Greatest and the narrator's voice fit the bill perfectly. Loved it!
Profile Image for Ben.
6 reviews3 followers
August 10, 2016
Jason Reynolds just slays the voice in this book. Slays it. As I read the novel, I felt like I was sitting on the stoop right next to Ali as he told the story. The plot itself is nothing complicated. There are no tricks or twists. But the characters are so perfectly crafted, so authentically vivid, that the story grabs hold and never lets go.

There's a point early in the story where Ali is introducing the reader to Malloy, his boxing trainer. As he describes the man's history, his roots so deep in Brooklyn that he must've been the soil that planted the tree, he uses two words to describe him that say it all: "That Brooklyn." And Reynolds builds his characters so meticulously and organically that I know exactly what he means. It's that kind of writing.

In this simple coming-of-age story, we get a portrait of a kid, Ali, his family, his friends, his neighborhood. In the story's simplicity we find the complexities that are life. A story doesn't need much to portray the difficulties of growing up and the complex nature of human relationships. Reynolds captures it all perfectly. From the brilliant cover to the final page, this novel's impact resonates long after you finish it.
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,277 followers
May 3, 2017
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Jason Reynolds made his debut with this moving story of fifteen-year-old Ali Brooks, a boy on the cusp of being a man. Ali's voice is as authentic as they come. He's a character who radiates extreme likability. A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don't really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing. When you one of Doris's kids, you learn early in life that school is all you need to worry about. And when it's summertime, all you need to be concerned with then is making sure your butt got some kind of job, and staying out of trouble so that you can go back to school in September.

When I Was the Greatest tackles heavy topics with precision, exploring the dangers of gun violence and hyper-masculinity. The book touches on the importance of family and the complexities of friendship. And it's a lesson book on what it means to be a man: [Dad] used that "like a man" all the time to trick me into telling on myself, but it was okay, because I did believe that a man stands up and admits what he's done. A man takes the heat coming to him.
Profile Image for Brigid ✩.
581 reviews1,821 followers
November 19, 2015
Short Review:

I saw Jason Reynolds speak at Boston Book Festival and had never heard of him before, but I really liked what he had to say. Naturally, I decided I should pick up one of his books from the library and give it a try. And I'm glad I did, because I really enjoyed this one.

Some brief thoughts:

• The narration is great. I loved Ali's voice, it was very funny and authentic.

• I loved all the other characters, too. Every one of them, even the minor characters, had distinct personalities and realistic flaws.

• The book has a thought-provoking message about how things can get blown up from a single misunderstanding.

• Really, my only issue was that it felt too short, and the pacing was a tad awkward. It doesn't get into the main conflict until pretty late in the story, and then the fallout and resolution happen very quickly. So, the end felt somewhat abrupt and I felt like things were tied up a little too neatly.

Over all, this was a really fun and interesting read. I have another of Reynolds' books out from the library and I really look forward to reading it!

Full Review:

Coming eventually
Profile Image for April.
2,101 reviews950 followers
July 14, 2013
I had the very fortunate privilege of attending the Simon Teen Blogger Preview during BEA 2013. At the event, authors were interviewed on stage, but were actually asked interesting questions. We got cocktails and learned about awesome new books. At that event, one author left more of an impression on me and had me immediately rushing to start his book after the event. That author was Jason Reynolds. He is an author who interviews quite well and from the way he answered the questions, you could kind of tell that this man could TOTALLY weave an interesting story. And so, on a whim, I decided to start reading When I Was The Greatest. Y’all, this book needs to be added to your TBR list. It needs a lot of noise and a lot of buzz. It releases January 7, 2014, but I want to start talking about it now. I want to start what I hope will be an avalanche of reviews for this awesome and deserving book.
Read the rest of my review here
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,182 reviews10 followers
April 3, 2014
I like this book because it is mostly about boys, their relationships, and friendships. It is not a romance. Ironically, even though men have such a large voice in the world they seem to have a small voice in teen books, especially when it is not a romance. It is also about black American teenagers, who don’t show up in teen publishing enough. Finally, these black American teen boys are fully actualized, have lots of components to their personalities (just like real teens) and are not one dimensional or stereotypical which makes this book unfortunately, incredibly unique. My only quibble is that although the cover is clever (read the book!) I wish there were black male teens on the cover because they almost never are there. But this is not usually under the author’s control; see many articles in the past few years about this trend.
Profile Image for J Beckett.
142 reviews405 followers
February 10, 2017
Amazing YA novel that takes you into the life, friendship, and commonly uncommon conflicts of being young in Brooklyn. Reynolds provides just enough detail for the reader to have a clear panoramic view of the entire community. His characters become friends or simply boys from the around the neighborhood; ultimately you know them, well. Haven't read many YA novels, but Reynolds has definitely changed all of that. A Spike Lee movie for teens!
Profile Image for RoRo.
279 reviews65 followers
March 31, 2021
5 stars

Jason Reynolds...

Your books are amazing!!!

I cannot believe that before March I had never read one of your books.

All I have to say is!!
I want another one!! Also, it was amazing!!
Profile Image for Odette Brethouwer.
1,396 reviews234 followers
December 13, 2020
Ik vond dit boek heel traag op gang komen. Ik was halverwege en ik had nog steeds het gevoel dat het verhaal moest beginnen. Dat ik doorlas komt omdat ik zo veel vertrouwen heb in BlossomBooks, én omdat ik de andere boeken van Jason Reynolds zo goed vind. En achteraf gezien is die trage start ook best wel logisch. het zet een baseline voor de personages en hun karakters.

Ik vind dit een hele mooie coming-of-age, en eentje die alle andere coming-of-age boeken doet verbleken, of in ieder geval privileged doet aanvoelen, ook mijn eigen tienerjaren. Dit is ruw, rauw, hard. Realistisch, helaas. Ook weer eentje die een verhaal vertelt van, over mensen en die ons anders naar nieuwsberichten of actuele ontwikkelingen doet kijken, omdat je inzicht in iemands leven krijgt. Je loopt echt een boek in andermans schoenen, en dat is niet alleen knap gedaan maar ook belangrijk.
Profile Image for Lauren Shaw.
60 reviews
December 7, 2014

I wanted to love this book, but I felt like something was missing. It does it's best to capture the teen vernacular of urban African-American kids, but since it's a YA title it's pretty clean, which is completely inaccurate (I teach suburban white kids who curse and do much worse than the kids in this book, so to me it was a bit unrealistic).

The story is pretty straightforward and a bit anticlimactic, but I can still see why this is a good read for young adults.

The best parts are the careful handling of Ali's family situation and how the neighborhood deals with Needles' Tourette's.

I think people are hyping this book up too much, which is why I ended up feeling it was a bit lackluster. Had I gone in blind, I might have enjoyed it more.
Profile Image for Brittany (whatbritreads).
577 reviews1,059 followers
June 3, 2022
I had no idea what to expect from this book, but the outward aesthetic of it coupled with the beautiful formatting and illustrations drew me in and I knew I just HAD to pick it up, and I’m so glad I did.

The voice given to the protagonist of this book was so beautifully done, and it suited the character so well. Reynolds effortlessly captures the diversity of his personality throughout the book really well. The characters here were very human and they had their flaws, but it was almost impossible not to root for them as you understood their motives and massive heart. The main premise of the plot worked perfectly to really explore these characters and their lives more in depth.

Speaking of the characters, I absolutely loved them. It felt like such a raw and honest portrayal of these three completely different young boys growing up and trying to navigate the difficulties of life together. Their friendship was honestly something to behold and I think this book has so many great messages tucked away in there for other teenagers to really latch on to. That isn’t to say it can’t teach older readers anything, because I valued my time reading this immeasurably. I just wanted to hug them all.

If you’re a fan of books like Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas, this is a great read.
Profile Image for Becky Shaknovich.
355 reviews11 followers
May 15, 2014
This falls into the category of teen books that feels unrealistic because the characters get in big trouble -something terrible happens - as soon as they break the rules. In reality, teens can break major rules and push boundaries a number of times before their lives fall apart. What I did like about this book was the portrayal of the family. Often, the "good" families on the rough block are churchgoing folks. It's refreshing to see a hardworking single mom who doesn't focus her morality around around religion and, instead, teaches her kids to treat others well and stay out of trouble just because it's the right thing to do.
Profile Image for Jay G.
1,232 reviews464 followers
March 1, 2019
Want to see more from me? Check out my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...

This follows 15 year old Ali who lives in New York where drugs and gang violence are common. He tries to focus on his family, boxing and hanging out with his neighbors, Noodles and Needles to keep out of trouble. Noodles has always been a bit of a hot head and Ali always seems to be trying to diffuse the situations he finds him in. But when one incident seems to much to handle, Ali has to decide whether or not to stand up for his friend again, or let him go.

I think Ali is one of the most authentic voices in YA I've read so far. I loved the message this book was trying to send to its readers about how acceptance and love are more important than your reputation. I also loved how it showed how much things can escalate from a small misunderstanding. I really liked the secondary characters, I feel like they were very well developed. Jazz and Needles were my favourites by far.
Profile Image for Dan.
154 reviews15 followers
March 24, 2016
Pacing the stage at the city library, the large, dreadlocked man dressed in black jeans and a black t-shirt exclaimed, “I wanted to show that the people in my neighborhood were just normal people.” Jason Reynolds went on to say that when he was growing up he could not find himself in books. His idol and mentor Walter Dean Myers would come a few years later, but in his formative years Reynolds could not get into books because the people he knew were not written into the books. In his Coretta Scott King award winning novel When I Was The Greatest Reynolds succeeds in creating compelling human characters who stand out in stark contrast to the cardboard caricatures that pass as African-American characters in what is popularly referred to as street lit or hood books.

Ali lives in Bed-Stuy with his mother, Doris, and younger sister, Jazz. His father is around, but no longer lives with the family, but he is still part of Ali’s life. The novel begins when we meet Noodles and Needles, two boys that move into the rundown brownstone and former crack house next door. The author references Spike Lee toward the end of the book, and the neighborhood has that nostalgic Crooklyn feel even though it is set in present day. There is the woman downstairs that watches after the kids when Doris is at her second job. The barbershop down the street doubles as the local news source and oddly a pet shop. An old man teaches boxing and life lessons to local kids, and a local hustler offers haircuts on Mondays when the barbershop is closed. Bed-Stuy is the village that raises Ali and his friends.

Reynolds creates nuanced characters that are neither good nor bad. Noodles uses a tough exterior to hide his inner dork that likes to draw comic book characters like the Hulk “perfectly, every muscle, every hair. The only difference was he drew a Yankees cap on the Hulk, but it looked like it belonged there.” His brother Needles suffers from Tourette’s, and while we don’t get to know his inner life we learn much about the characters by the way they treat him. The story is told from Ali’s point of view, and Reynolds has imbued him with enough common sense and critical thinking to allow the reader to see his world for what it really is, yet he balances it with enough doubt and immaturity to ground him in the reality of the neighborhood.

It is that balance that makes the book easy to read. Unlike many young adult novels with scenes of violence the characters in When I Was The Greatest must use it on a personal level not a geopolitical one. Ali doesn’t have to save the world from ruthless dictators, evil corporations, or he who shall not be named. He saves his friend. And when the choice is made to fight, the characters must deal with the consequences of those actions albeit with the help of the village.

It is not the responsibility of authors to create or be role models, but in this book Reynolds accomplishes both. As a teacher in an alternative school, I kept imagining my students reading the book. If they chose to emulate any of the characters in this book, I would be happy.

Much of this book is a character study, and I walked away from wishing that I could know the people that populate this world. However, while reading the book I did become anxious for the conflict to develop. When it did, Reynolds was able to fill it with enough emotion and tension to easily pull the reader through the end of the book. A good reader will be able to guess the next developments in the plot, but it is not the plot that matters. It is the people. In the end, I wanted to sit on the stoop with Ali, Noodles, and Needles talking about girls, making up raps, and smelling the dinner that Jazz was whipping up that night.
Profile Image for Beth.
2,914 reviews196 followers
December 16, 2020
Ali knows his neighborhood in Brooklyn has a bad rap, but he likes to stay above the fray. He's a kid who looks after his mom and his sister, and avoids the guns, drugs, and gangs that sometimes plague Bed Stuy.

One day, two boys Ali's age move in next door, and they immediately strike up a friendship. Noodles and Needles are brothers and Needles has Tourette's. Needles frequently has tics and shouts out inappropriate words, but Ali's mom has discovered a way to help calm his tics: knitting (thus his nickname). Despite the fact that Needles' condition seems to bother no one in their neighborhood, Noodles clearly harbors a great deal of resentment towards his brother that eventually comes to a boiling point when Needles takes a hit for something that was Noodles' fault.

When I Was the Greatest first came on my radar back in April when Jason Reynolds was part of an event at Literati Bookstore with John Corey Whaley and Brendan Kiely. Reynolds' debut novel is a much-needed counter-narrative in the canon of young adult literature that prominently features black characters. So often books with African Americans are either historical fiction or gritty narratives that feature protagonists who are part of gangs or other criminal activities. Jason Reynolds, however, has written a gentle story about a young man who always wants to do right by his family and friends. Ali's tenderness towards his mom and sister and even his mostly absent father is not only touching, it is a desperately needed narrative for kids and young adults -- as both a mirror and a window. Fans of Jacqueline Woodson's After Tupac and D Foster will enjoy this character-driven story and want to keep sitting on the stoop with Ali, Noodles, and Needles long after the last page is turned.

Read my entire review on my blog.
Profile Image for Rebecca McPhedran.
1,014 reviews62 followers
November 15, 2017
Ali lives in a rough neighborhood in New York City. He spends some of his time learning to box from his neighbor down the street, and the rest of his time watching out for his younger sister. He meets two brothers who become fast friends. Noodles is hard and tough, always giving his younger brother a hard time. Needles is a great freestyle rapper, and has Tourettes Syndrome. Ali's mom teaches Needles how to knit, to help him control his tremors.
The trio find themselves somewhere they shouldn't be. And they have to find a way out of it. a beautiful story about the power of friendship, and the importance of never giving up on your family.
Jason Reynolds is just the voice we need in young adult fiction. Truth and vulnerability. Good stuff.
Profile Image for Leah.
696 reviews77 followers
June 2, 2019
This is the second book of Jason Reynolds that I read, but the first one that told a fictional story, and I loved it. I loved Ali, and his story, the setting, his friends, and honestly just everything about this book. I think Mr. Reynolds really allowed the reader to learn so much from these characters and what they went through in here.
Profile Image for Liza Wiemer.
Author 5 books658 followers
May 11, 2014
How can I even begin to explain how deeply this novel touched me? How much it made my heart ache? Unless, of course, you walk in my shoes, it's impossible to completely understand what this novel means to me. But I'll try . . .

First and foremost, this is a novel of LOVE. The love a mother has for her children. She's a mother's mother. A role model. She rules with such strength, crossing her would be like crossing G-d, yet she has a soft heart, a forgiving heart. Her children respect her. She's the voice in their head, guiding them even though she works two jobs and is rarely home. Yet her presence is always there.

It's a novel about a brother who loves his sister and a sister who loves her brother and a flawed father who loves his kids so much, he'd sacrifice everything for them.

Who wouldn't want to be LOVED THAT MUCH?

This is a novel about FAMILY. Families can be defined in many different ways. I have never read one that has touched me more deeply in a novel, than this one.

This is a novel about LOYALTY. Loyalty to family, to friends, to your neighbors, and neighborhood.

This is a novel about COMMUNITY. Where people look out for one another, accept people for who they are without looking to shame or change them.

This is a novel about FRIENDSHIP. It's not always easy to be one, especially when your best friend lets you down and lets someone you care about down.

I could talk about WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST from the perspective of character development, writing style, voice, setting. But it seems pointless to go into detail. For me, these things felt flawless. I was transferred to Brooklyn, I was transfixed by the characters, and knowing that Jason Reynolds utilized people he knew and experiences that were (mostly) true to create this work of fiction had a huge impact on me. I love the knitting!

So, I'd like to say this: WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST is an important novel. It opens a door into the world most of us haven't experienced because Brooklyn's not our turf. But there are so many things that EVERYONE can relate to. The strength of this novel revolves around the commonality that we all share, what makes us the best humanity has to offer -- goodness, kindness, compassion, and ultimately love. Put on your glasses, the ones that allow us to see into a person's soul. That's what Jason Reynolds does with WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST. It's his gift to us. We get to decide if we'll take it. I sure as heck am glad I did!
Profile Image for Lekeisha The Booknerd.
929 reviews106 followers
June 24, 2019
I love reading Jason's books. I get all nostalgic and start thinking about my childhood and teenage years. Ali, Noodles and Needles could've been from my block. They were so relatable and just plain real. I only know one person with Tourette Syndrome, so it was easy to picture Needles' character, even though I'm sure that the syndrome is different for each individual. The cover makes so much more sense once you read this book. Not at all what I had in mind when I cracked it open. Jason Reynolds always surprises me. A great, honest to goodness real a** story about some boys from Bed-Stuy. I can't recommend his novels enough to those seeking #ownvoices material. Each and every one will give you some understanding of our "blackness". You can learn a lot from this amazing author.
Profile Image for Audrey Laurey.
208 reviews20 followers
March 16, 2014
I'm hesitant to say that this is one the best example of urban fiction I have read because I think that statement would be limiting. I would prefer to describe it as a great work of fiction that falls under the urban fiction genre. The character development is rich, multifaceted, and proves Reynolds to be an intuitive and remarkable storyteller.

Another thing that I really liked about this book is that it is YA fiction that was actually written for the YA audience, while still holding adult appeal. Personally, I am very tired of YA fiction that seems to be geared more towards an adult audience. What a breath of fresh air. Highly recommended, especially for teens in 8th grade and up.
Profile Image for Sarah Hough.
128 reviews1 follower
February 23, 2016
It's a simple story about Ali and his friends Noodles and Needles who live in Brooklyn. They're sweet, good kids who try to stay out of trouble which is why halfway through, when it's obvious that trouble is coming, I almost gave up on the book because I didn't want to read anything bad happen to any of them. I'm glad I stuck with it to because it concludes with the enduring values of friendship, love and family. Jason Reynolds is very gifted with character development; even the characters with smaller roles are nuanced and complicated in a way that makes them seem more fully fleshed out.
Profile Image for Adele.
755 reviews21 followers
April 4, 2019
This started out with a decent concept and interesting characters, but then it didn't really go anywhere. I felt the ending was unsatisfying and by the end the writing style was starting to annoy me a little - too many metaphors and similes and paragraphs that felt inserted just to add setting specificity and "color".
Profile Image for Diane.
131 reviews
February 16, 2015
I take issue with the crocheted gun on the cover when one of the main characters knits... but other than that it's really good!
Profile Image for CJ.
1,032 reviews20 followers
June 10, 2020
A really good family story. I loved Ali, and his relationship with his mom and sister. He's insightful and super well-adjusted despite being poor and not always having a father around. His mother Doris, a social worker, also works to make sure he understands other people and has empathy. His father is still in the picture, though not living with them. Despite that, he's loving and supportive, and would do anything for his children.

His best friend Noodles is a piece of work. He seems kind of fun to hang out with, but he flies off the handle at little things, especially when they involve his brother, Needles. Needles is a quieter character. He has Tourrette syndrome, and has occasional outbursts of cursing or physical tics. He gets his nickname during a meltdown, when Doris thinks that him having something to do with his hands, namely knitting, might help him control himself. So he starts knitting, thus Needles.

After trouble at a party, Ali is forced to confront his feelings about his relationship with Noodles. There are some things that need to be examined there, and there's a lot of learning to be done.

Absolutely loved the story. Even the minor characters were fully realized, and I really grew to like Malloy, and Black, despite how few pages he got.

Very moving. I'll be looking for more by Reynolds.
Profile Image for Monique.
697 reviews80 followers
January 25, 2021
Toen ik de sterkste was van Jason Reynolds heeft best wel een indruk op me achtergelaten. Ik vind zijn schrijfstijl heel mooi, heel rauw maar toch weer met een poëtisch randje, al lijkt dat eigenlijk een tegenstelling. Heel nuchter vertelt hij de feiten over een zwarte wijk waar Ali en zijn vrienden/buren Noodles en Needles wonen, en dat is best heftig om te lezen. Ali is een hele goede hoofdpersoon, ondanks zijn omgeving die hem richting drugs en criminaliteit duwt houdt hij zich er verre van en geeft meer om zijn kleine zusje Jazz. En dat snap ik, want ze is de leukste en ik zou er heel wat voor over hebben om haar kookkunsten te proeven.

De vriendschap tussen Noodles en Ali is ontzettend goed geschreven. Dit boek moet het echt van de personages hebben, en dat komt helemaal goed. Je hart breekt een beetje om Noodles, en het thema van vriendschap is ontzettend sterk en heeft me ook doen nadenken over mijn eigen vriendschappen en waarom die zo gelopen zijn.

En de disability rep! Needles heeft Gilles de la Tourette, die bij de meeste mensen alleen bekend staat om het onbeheerste vloeken (terwijl een groot deel van de mensen die hieraan lijden hier geen last van heeft). Maar Jason Reynolds laat duidelijk en ook subtiel zijn hoe het meer is dan dat, hoe het elk aspect van je leven kan beïnvloeden en ook andere mentale beperkingen met zich meebrengt. Ik vond het ontzettend goed gedaan, al kan ik natuurlijk niet spreken voor deze doelgroep.

Op zich is dit een boek waarin niet veel gebeurd als je terugdenkt, maar eigenlijk stiekem wel veel gebeurt. Je ziet de schrijnende situatie in deze achterstandswijk, hoe je jezelf staande moet zien te houden en erbij moet horen, maar ook hoe geen ambulance gebeld kan worden na een auto-ongeluk ofzo, omdat het niet te betalen is. Dat komt echt wel even binnen. Het is best wel extreem, en omdat het wordt gebracht als de normaalste zaak van de wereld zie je het contrast nog meer. Ik vind het ook heel goed dat dit zo is gedaan, verreweg de meeste boeken met een zwarte cast hebben de focus op racisme en zijn best heftig (met mogelijke triggers), terwijl voor zwarte jongeren verder nog weinig boeken zijn die over “gewone” dingen gaan als vriendschap, in een omgeving die ze herkennen. Dus ik ben erg blij dat dit boek bestaat!

De cover is overigens ook geniaal, zeker als je het boek gelezen hebt. Jammer alleen dat het pistool gehaakt is en niet gebreid, maar dat vergeef ik meteen want de knalkleurtjes zijn te leuk!

Ik vind het echt een heel goed boek, zeker als je meer wilt weten hoe het leven in de VS is voor zwarte jongeren, maar ook om de universele thema’s als vriendschap em familie, hoe je samen sterk kunt staan.
Profile Image for Magen.
783 reviews31 followers
July 16, 2020
How is it that Jason Reynolds hits me so hard in the feels so often? I definitely teared up. Also, knitting!

This books starts out feeling very light and with sparse writing. I thought early on that this would be a basic 3 star read and one of my lesser enjoyed books of Reynolds, but then the full plot kicked in, and I was transported to a compelling story I needed to finish. The less strong start than Reynolds's other books and bit of a rosy edge to the whole story dropped this a half star or so. There is a strong sense of community in this book and it had the greater impact for me.

My only quibble is that the audiobook is the audiobook narrator isn't quite as strong as the other narrators of Reynolds books, though maybe no one will compare to Guy Lockard's reading of the Ghost series or Reynolds own reading of his poetry and novel in verse.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,089 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.