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|Boy in the black suit|
Author: Reynolds, Jason
Soon after his mother's death, Matt takes a job at a funeral home in his tough Brooklyn neighborhood and, while attending and assisting with funerals, begins to accept her death and his responsibilities as a man.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 4.80
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 171390
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 9-12
Reading Level: 5.60
Points: 17.0 Quiz: 64253
Coretta Scott King Author Honor, 2016
School Library Journal (00/10/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/02/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 10/01/2014 Gr 7 Up—Matt's mother just died, and his dad isn't coping well, hanging out with the local drunk and downing whiskey, which results in his getting hit by a car and landing in the hospital. Matt is also grieving his mom's death and now he's on his own, until he lands a job at the local funeral home: $15 an hour and Mr. Ray as his boss. Attending other people's funerals helps the teen come to grips with his own grief. Hearing mourners express their real thoughts of suffering at each funeral allows Matt to figure out his own feelings. Mr. Ray is wise and shows up at all the right times to help out the struggling young man, and when Mr. Ray's secrets come to light, he appears even cooler in Matt's eyes. Amid all this, Matt meets Lovey, the girl of his dreams, who is smart, funny, gorgeous, and tough. A mystery intersecting Lovey's life and that of Matt's best friend, Chris, deepens the plot. Written in a breezy style with complex characters who have real lives, this is another hit for Reynolds, fresh off the success of his When I Was the Greatest (S. & S., 2014). The author's seemingly effortless writing shines in this slice-of-life story, which covers a lot of the protagonist's emotional ground. The realistic setting and character-driven tale keeps readers turning the pages of this winner.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, San Leandro, CA - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 02/01/2015 His mother recently dead from breast cancer, 17-year-old Matt feels his life is backwards and that he has become invisible at school. Then, ironically, he secures a work-study job at the local funeral home, owned by Mr. Ray, a respected fixture in their Bed-Stuy neighborhood, and discovers, to his surprise, that he enjoys attending funerals. “Somehow,” he thinks, “it made me feel better knowing my pain isn’t only mine.” It is at a funeral that he meets a beautiful girl with the improbable name of Lovey and feels an instant attraction. The two become friends and gradually their friendship, rooted in trust, becomes something deeper that may redeem both of them from their losses and loneliness. Though it gets off to a slightly slow start, Reynolds’ second novel quickly becomes a superb, character-driven story. His protagonist Matt is a wonderfully sympathetic, multidimensional character whose voice is a perfect match for the material and whose relationships with Lovey and Mr. Ray—also a fascinating character—are beautifully realized. This quiet story is clearly a winner. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 02/01/2015 Matt’s mother was the center of Matt’s heart and the family home; with her passing, nothing seems real or important anymore, and Matt’s father seems to be falling apart. When Matt’s work-study job falls through and Mr. Ray, his neighbor and the director of the local funeral home, offers him a job, he’s skeptical at first, then surprised and a little creeped out when he finds comfort sitting in on the funerals of complete strangers. He eventually realizes that it’s only at funerals where he can find someone who really understands how he feels; watching the reactions of those closest to the deceased provides the confirmation he needs to validate his emotions. When his father is hit by a car, Matt becomes even closer to Mr. Ray, but when Love, a girl that he has been crushing on from afar, stands up at her grandmother’s funeral, he finally opens his heart and begins to heal. Reynolds has a fantastic ear for the easy, lyrical expressions and idioms of his characters, and his genuine love for the African-American Bed-Stuy community is palpable. Matt’s introduction to funeral culture is at times predictably heartbreaking, but at other times it’s just hilarious, giving a sense of the range of experience. As Love takes him into her world, serving at a homeless shelter and wandering through the Botanical Gardens, the story takes on a subtly realized shape that gives the realism weight and texture. Reynolds’ work here makes him a fine heir to the Walter Dean Myers tradition of loving storytelling that captures the heart and humor of multigenerational black urban experience. KC - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.