Ain't Burned All the Bright - book cover
Literature & Fiction
  • Publisher : Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
  • Published : 11 Jan 2022
  • Pages : 384
  • ISBN-10 : 1534439463
  • ISBN-13 : 9781534439467
  • Language : English

Ain't Burned All the Bright

Prepare yourself for something unlike anything: A smash-up of art and text for teens that viscerally captures what it is to be Black. In America. Right Now. Written by #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jason Reynolds.

Jason Reynolds and his best bud, Jason Griffin had a mind-meld. And they decided to tackle it, in one fell swoop, in about ten sentences, and 300 pages of art, this piece, this contemplation-manifesto-fierce-vulnerable-gorgeous-terrifying-WhatIsWrongWithHumans-hope-filled-hopeful-searing-Eye-Poppingly-Illustrated-tender-heartbreaking-how-The-HECK-did-They-Come-UP-with-This project about oxygen. And all of the symbolism attached to that word, especially NOW.

And so for anyone who didn't really know what it means to not be able to breathe, REALLY breathe, for generations, now you know. And those who already do, you'll be nodding yep yep, that is exactly how it is.

Editorial Reviews

A profound visual testimony to how much changed while we all had to stay inside and how much-painfully, mournfully-stayed the same.

Reynolds' poetry and Griffin's art perform a captivating dance on pages of mixed-media collage and emotive reflection on the pronounced threats facing a contemporary Black family. In "Breath One," the opening of the verse narrative, the unnamed boy protagonist struggles with the onslaught of TV news coverage of the systemic violence and death experienced by Black people-coverage that is both overwhelming and insufficient. The television then forms the backdrop of the narrator's concerns for his bedridden father, who is struggling with an acute respiratory illness while isolated in a bedroom. The art is sometimes spare and monochrome before shifting to a bright and striking palette as Griffin deploys aesthetics that enliven the rich flow and rhythm of Reynolds' words. The two skillfully go back and forth like rap duos of old, each with a distinct voice that enriches the other. The result is an effective critique of the ways we've failed as a society to care for one another. By "Breath Three," however, a complicated optimism shines through for a family that perseveres through closeness and connection despite what is broadcast from their TV. While grounded in 2020, many of the issues touched on explicitly are very much not over and not even new, making this remarkable work both timely and timeless.

Artful, cathartic, and most needed. -- Kirkus Review STARRED REVIEW ― 11/01/2021

Reynolds and Griffin's searing indictment of the status quo is expressed in the voice of a young, unnamed Black man, whose timely comments resonate beyond the personal to the universal.[…] Reynolds' text-printed on strips of white paper affixed to notebook pages-comments on a seemingly changeless world on fire, on protests in the wake of George Floyd's murder, and on the seeming omnipresence of COVID-19-all of which reflect a world without the freedom to breathe. It's a bleak picture but not one without hope of change. Griffin's remarkable mixed-media collage pictures that employ a palette largely of black and red are a perfect complement to the text, capturing its tone and style exactly while expanding and enhancing the words of the poetic text. The result is an important combination that expresses the zeitgeist of a troubled time. It's essential reading. -- Booklist *STARRED* ― 12/1/2021

Author Reynolds and artist Griffin, friends and previous collaborators (My Name Is Jason. Mine Too.), explore recent events in America through a poetic multimedia partnership told in three "breaths." […] As Reynolds's lines depict Black people facing police brutality, Covid-19, and general concerns regarding safety, Griffin's captivating collages literally ...

Readers Top Reviews

Paul C
The two Jasons. A writer and an artist. Combine to create a 300 page work of art. This is a book of illustrations, words, themes, frustrations, and immediacy. It’s a notebook that contains the thoughts and emotions of a young black man living through 2020, the pandemic and the incidents of police brutality and racial injustice. One common thread links the two oppressive situations: breath. When can people live freely, breathe freely? This work can be shared just as easily in the English classroom as it can in the Art room. I can see high school students gaining inspiration to take their own stories to the page using their own images and words to evoke their own themes during these times. To be honest, I’m a little torn and I’m sure it’s the English teacher in me wanting more text, ha! But I also appreciate the haunting art. It truly evokes the empathy that everyone needs to practice during this time. A strong and emotional piece of art that I will be talking to my library about asap! 4 out of 5 stars. Thank you to NetGalley, Simon and Schuster, and the creators for an advanced copy for review.
5 stars As a long-time Jason Reynolds fan and as a person who has been teaching his work for years, I expect to enjoy anything he produces. What I did not expect is how novel the presentation would be in this one. It's a top recommendation. One of many aspects to love about Reynolds is what a prolific speaker he is. A particularly favorite video is his discussion of books as time capsules of the period in which they are produced, and I could not stop thinking about that particular connection the whole time I engaged with this piece. Like many of Reynolds's works, this is not a light read. It's about a number of current events and circumstances, including but not limited to race relations, Covid, stay-at-home orders, the horrors of the nightly news, and tech dependency. The main character is in a state of focusing on breath: breathing in, breathing out, and not being able to breath. It's impossible to interact with this work - especially with the addition of the complementary art - and not feel these characters' pain...and access our own. This is another stellar work from one of the greatest writers of our time, but in many ways, for me, this one stands out from the rest. I'll be recommending this - and perhaps teaching it - for years to come.
Lynette JenkinsR.L.
This work of art captivates the reader from beginning to end. I embraced each page which made me feel like I was inside of the book. The collaboration between these two men was multi-dimensional. (as you read, you will feel it) This is a must share book. I have given six of them as gifts, including my grandson’s teachers.
As I opened my book, I began to read out loud and my teenage son joined me! Need I say more! Well Done JR & JG. You did not disappoint! To everything a season, this is your season. So needed for such a time as this!