Three long sentences,
Two Jasons collaborating again,
One vibrant book, willing us to breathe…
His father coughing and coughing in the bedroom, his mother glued to the all-bad-news television. Brother won’t stop playing his video game, sister chatting about what to bring for a protest during a pandemic.
Stuck at home together – will it ever be safe to leave?
After George Floyd’s murder – who wants to be away from home?
TV locked on the same channel – is there better news anywhere?
A Black young man feels like he’s the only family member who realizes how bad things really are, how “worry is worn like a knit sweater in summer” suffocating them all, yet maybe hope can get them through all this.
Jason Reynolds (I’ve recommended his books Boy in the Black Suit; Ghost; Look Both Ways) wrote the story of a young man and his family during that first year of pandemic and protests as three very, very long sentences.
His former roommate Jason Griffin journaled his impressions of 2020 via paint, colored pencil, and collage in his moleskin notebook, then cut out and taped Reynolds’ words onto his artwork whose textures leap off the satin-surfaced pages of this book.
Happy book birthday to this stunning reflection on events of 2020 when so many of us wished we could change the TV channel from its harsh realities to something brighter.
What do you remember most about 2020?
Book info: Ain’t Burned All the Bright / Jason Reynolds; artwork by Jason Griffin. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Atheneum, 2022. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.