All American Boys

All American Boys Study Guide

All American Boys is a young-adult novel, co-written by American authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely and published in 2015. They were motivated to write the book after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri by a white police officer in 2014. In the wake of his murder, the national spotlight focused on the systemic violence that Black youth face at the hands of law enforcement. The authors came together to write a book that would speak to the current moment.

The result was All American Boys, a novel that centers on an incident of police brutality involving a white officer, Paul Galluzzo, and a Black teen, Rashad. The brutal beating is witnessed by Quinn, a white teenager who goes to the same high school as Rashad. The novel is narrated from Rashad and Quinn’s perspectives, and explores the themes of police brutality, racism, political division, loyalty, and the policing of Black lives. Co-author Brendan Kiely says of Quinn, “ [he] has to acknowledge [the beating] and see it. That's a metaphor for him and, I think, for many of us in America, especially those of us who are white and who have escaped this kind of brutality." The community becomes divided by racial tension. Quinn must decide what side he stands on: if he will stand up against racism and police violence or stay silent and perpetuate the status quo.

All American Boys is part of a growing collection of young-adult literature that holds up a mirror to racism in America. The novel invites young readers and adults alike into an urgent and necessary conversation about race. All American Boys was awarded the Coretta Scott King Book Award in 2016 and the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature.