Review of Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks
by Jason Reynolds
Intermediate, Middle School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    193 pp.
10/19    978-1-4814-3828-5    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4814-3830-8    $10.99

Ten blocks. Ten stories. Lots of middle-school kids doing many different things after school. Jasmine and TJ walk home together, wondering what they’re made of—dust and water? boogers? Four friends hustle for change all day and maneuver their capital into buying an urgently needed treat for one of their moms. Ty sprints to check on Bryson, who stayed home to recover from getting jumped the day before. Fatima manages the unpredictable by writing lists of things that don’t change and keeping track of things that do. Gregory’s friends spruce him up and hype him up as they walk him over to Sandra’s house so he can finally tell her he likes her. And Canton, the son of the crossing guard who got injured by a school bus a year ago, sits at his mom’s intersection doing homework. Each short story is filled with the heart and humor for which Reynolds’s middle-grade and middle-school work (As Brave As You, rev. 7/16; the Track series) is known. The young characters cope with difficult problems, from stressed-out parents and aging grandparents to siblings they’ve lost to death or prison, but they are first and foremost ordinary, good kids. And all throughout their striving, surviving, laughing, and groundedness, they relate to one another and to readers in a way that captures the heart. Names, jokes, and details are cleverly and deeply woven between stories to show the interconnectedness of the characters’ world, while the individually distinct stories remind us that you never know what someone else is going through.

From the November/December 2019 Horn Book Magazine.

Autumn Allen
Autumn Allen
Autumn Allen is an educator, writer, critic and independent scholar of children's and young adult literature.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

Stay Connected. Join our devoted community of librarians, educators, and parents in the world of children’s and young adult literature.