Review: The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rating: 4 stars

Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this “vivid, satisfying, and ultimately upbeat tale of grief, redemption, and grace” (Kirkus Reviews) from the Coretta Scott King – John Steptoe Award–winning author of When I Was the Greatest.

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. Crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy stuff than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.

 I loved this book so much. It did something that I had a hard time finding in other books (although it's getting better). The characters were black. They lived in a primarily black community and none of the main characters, or their affiliates, had absentee parents, were doing drugs, in gangs, or so stereotypical that it hurt. It is possible to be black, live in a black community, and show and appreciate the black culture. I feel like I'm always falling over myself to find black characters who reminded me of the characters in Living Single or Family Matters and gosh darn it I've found it. 

  • Matt, I liked that kid, he was a strong, developed character without being... extra. His family had been shaken by the death of his mom and his reactions, while a little strange (sitting in on funerals and watching people cry) they were understandable and appropriate for this character.
  • THE COOKBOOK. I was almost in tears every time Matt looked at the cookbook his mom made him with recipes to help him get girls. It was such a strong example of the type of relationship Matt had with his mom. 
  • Matt's dad. So Matt's dad was a hot mess after his wife died. He'd had a drinking problem in the past and it slipped back into his life after his wife was gone. I think was I liked seeing was Matt's dad beginning to recover from the shock of his loss. There's a scene in the book where Matt's dad leaves him a voicemail and it was laugh out loud funny. You can tell that they're going to be okay. 
  • Matt reminds me of a male version of me. Chill, smart enough to get by, a few good friends, and trying to make his way in the world. It was beautiful to see. 
  • Mr. Ray what a freaking good guy. I honestly don't know what else to say. He reached out to help Matt not only with a job, but he also took on the role of a second father figure and not a lot of people go out of their way to ingratiate themselves into the lives of others. 100% good guy.
Didn't Like:
  • I hat to say it but I wasn't a huge fan of Lovey. It's not that I didn't like it, she was just... blah. I think the half the problem was that I read another book right after that with a female character who had more substance so I just feel very neutral about her. She was good, but not great.
  • So... it's not that I didn't like the ending. I just... feel like I missed something. I like to pride myself on looking deeply into things, but... other than the sadness and shock of the ending (I'm trying so hard to do this without spoilers) I just didn't get it. Whatever, I still really liked the book.

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