Note from Elena Reads: This review was originally published in the December 2019 issue of Blue Marble Review. I chose to write about As Brave As You because Jason Reynolds is a good author. I previously reviewed Patina, another awesome story he wrote. Here is my Blue Marble review:
In As Brave As You, brothers Genie and Ernie don’t expect to have such an exciting summer after their parents tell them they’ll be spending it in the South with grandparents they barely know. But even though there are stricter rules and no Wi-Fi, this vacation is probably the best one of their lives.
This award-winning book is about family, love, and courage. It’s also about accepting differences and adapting to change.
Genie and Ernie have to experience farm life when they pick peas to sell at a market instead of just buying them at the store. But not only do they experience southern life, they make friends and survive the trip with some surprises along the way.
When I was reading the book, I felt like I was in Virginia with the characters. For example, when Ernie’s teeth got knocked out, I could imagine the teeth floating in the jar of milk and him groaning on the couch.
The author conveyed many feelings in the story, like sadness and excitement. There were times when I felt like yelling at the book, or times when I wanted to jump for joy. Also, I really loved the character of Genie. He loves asking questions, like me.
Genie loves questions. In fact, he has hundreds of them in his notebook. So, when he realizes his Grandpop is blind, and learns more about his grandfather’s past, Genie finds an unexpected connection. They have fun together, eating entire apples (including the core!!) and sneaking outside in the dark. But after Grandpop confesses his deepest secrets, he thinks of some questions not even Google can answer, like why his dad won’t speak to Grandpop, and why Grandpop carries a gun in his pocket. Genie digs deeper to find the answer to these questions, but more importantly, finds the true meaning of bravery.
Genie sees Grandpop do everyday things with confidence even though he is blind. Genie also thinks Ernie is brave because he’s older and is the first one to do things.
I would recommend As Brave As You to readers ages 10 and up. Some readers may not like that it is slow moving, but I liked it because it had very good messages and a lot of interesting and funny passages. This book has some concepts that younger kids may not understand, like death and self-defense. It’s also good for book clubs!
As Brave as You was really great! I rate it four out of four roses!
Elena, have you ever thought an experience wasn’t going to be good, and it ended up being really great? Also, have you ever talked to your grandparents to find more about their lives? Anything surprising you learned?
I am pretty sure I am an optimistic person, and I don’t really think any experience will be bad. I have learned a lot about my grandparents, though, and learned my late Lola was a good cook. We made her delicious empanadas for Christmas. And, for my Lolo’s 80th birthday, I learned that he skipped a grade because he followed his older brother to his classroom!