All American Boys: Voices Unveiled Exploring Social Realities

Categories: All American Boys Novel


Jason Reynold’s and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys is a book based on several very real social issues that threaten society today. “Police Brutality”, “Racism”, “Prejudice” and “Bias” are just a few of the very serious problems that are all too real in this book. It lets us feel what it's like to be on both ends of the spectrum… both white and black. Simply put, it's a really interesting read.

The Controversial Book: Exploring Societal Realities

For many, this will be the first time you'll read a book as controversial as this - if you pick it up that is, and I suggest you do.

First of all, let me give you a brief summary of the book, though I don't think I’ll do it justice. Rashad, one of the two protagonists, is a young black man on his way home from school. He stops by a local convenience store to purchase some snacks. He was picking out what he wanted when a lady tripped over him, breaking some merchandise.

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This was an accident and it happens all the time. The lady knew this and didn't make a big deal about it, but a cop also present in the store misinterprets this as Rashad hurting the lady and/or trying to steal. The cop, Paul Galluzo, immediately rushes over and pushes Rashad through the door and then lays him out on the sidewalk, but he doesn't stop there, he keeps going and going and going until Rashad is a bloody mess, broken ribs and everything.

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Rashad's Struggles Throughout All American Boys

Throughout the rest of the book Rashad struggles to come to terms with what has happened to him and how to move on. The book also focuses in on another character, Quinn, a young white man. Quinn goes to the same school as Rashad. Quinn also happens to witness Rashad getting beaten by the cop Paul Galluzo. He doesn't know how he should face the situation, he was there and saw exactly what happened but he doesnt know whos side he should take. Paul was clearly in the wrong, but Quinn owes a lot to Pual for looking after him when his dad died. The community quickly becomes split and people are forced to take sides.

Fiction Reflects Reality in All American Boys

All American Boys was a very good read but if you look at it in a different light it teaches us a lot about American society today and how young people face these social issues. Here it says “In my bag? Man, ain’t nobody stealing nothing,” I explained, getting back to my feet. My hands were already up, a reflex from seeing a cop coming toward me. I glanced over at the lady, who was now slowly moving away, toward the cookies and snack cake aisle. “I was just trying to get my phone out my bag when she fell over me—” I tried to explain, but the policeman shut me down quick. “Shut up,” he barked, coming closer. “Wait, wait, I—” “I said shut up!” he roared, now rushing me, grabbing me by the arm. “Did you not hear me? You deaf or something?” He led me toward the door while walkie-talkie-ing that he needed backup. Backup? For what? For who? “No, you don’t understand,” I pleaded, unsure of what was happening. “I have money right here!” With my free hand, I reached into my pocket to grab the dollar I had designated to pay for those stupid chips. But before I could even get my fingers on the money, the cop had me knotted up in a submission hold, my arms twisted behind me, pain searing up to my shoulders. He shoved me through the door and slammed me to the ground. Face-first. Hurt so bad the pain was a color—white, a crunching sound in my ear as bones in my nose cracked.

After he slapped the cuffs on me, the metal cutting into my wrists, he yanked at my shirt and pants, searching me. I let out a wail, a sound that came from somewhere deep inside. One I had never made before, coming from a feeling I had never felt before.” This chunk of text shows us how quickly things can escalate. This exact scene could happen to anyone, from what we see, it was a misunderstanding, but the cop clearly thought otherwise and engaged without a second thought. This shows just how dangerous things can be, this is an exact reflection of want American society is like today as this book is based on reality. Giving us this view of realistic events is what the book does best, showing us both sides and making us take a side on the issues. Out of ten I would give this book a solid seven. One of the biggest problems I have is that the story almost feels cut short, I feel there needs to be more. The book ends just before the protest that is taking place against police violence, now the book stops there, but to me that is the most important part. This is what many people have been fighting for, a voice. They now have it, Rashad’s story is getting lots of news coverage and people are generally very concerned and angry at what had happened to him. If the book included this and a little closure on the story then I would give it a better score, but as it is it isn't enough.

The Reality of Society in All American Boys

That being said, this book is still amazing and does lots of things right. It gives us a realistic story based on events that can and have happened to real people. Here it says “When we pull up, there’s a white kid in tight black jeans and a sweater and this black kid going for it. A backpack was upside down on the side of the curb, and these two were just throwing down, scrapping. The black kid was dressed like . . .” He looked at me, finally. “Dressed like your brother. Hair all over his head. A hoodie. Boots. His pants were damn near all the way down. And he was mopping this boy. My partner and I jumped out of the car and approached them, and before we could even give them a chance to stop fighting, I ran over and jacked the black boy up because I knew he was in the wrong. I just knew it. I mean, you should’ve seen how he was pummeling this kid. And he fought me back, telling me that I had it wrong. He slipped right from my grip and ran for the backpack. I pulled my gun. Told him to leave it. He kept yelling, ‘I didn’t do anything! I didn’t do anything! He’s the criminal!’ But now he’s wheezing, like he was having a hard time speaking. Then he grabbed the backpack.

By now, my partner’s got the white kid. I tell the black dude to leave the bag and put his hands up. But he doesn’t and instead opens it. Puts his hand inside. And before he could pull it out, I pulled the trigger.”...“He was reaching for his inhaler. Turns out, he lived in that neighborhood and was walking home late, when the white kid tried to rob him. He was trying to fight the kid off, and when we showed up, his adrenaline went so high that he couldn’t breathe. Asthma attack. So he had to get to his inhaler, but he was having a hard time telling me that. I just assumed he . . .” “Wait. Wait . . .” I put my hand up, pushing the words back into my father’s mouth. If there was ever a time that I needed, for once, to control a conversation with him, it was now. I only had one question. “Did you kill him?” “No.” Dad teethed his top lip. “But I paralyzed him from the waist down.” Again, this is evidence that shows how quickly things can escalate and how quickly things can go wrong.

This book is a reflection of events that happen in real life, the story may be made up but this stuff can happen and has happened many, many times before, especially in America. This book lets us see these scenes unfold and lets us understand about the inner-workings of people and society when something like this happens, people take sides and become very opinionated. The parties involved may be good or bad but when people don't think twice about stuff like this, someone ends up dead. These situations need to be approached with utmost care, but they are not. And this book lets us know there is a problem if you haven't already noticed. This is such a big part of why this book is a must read, its because it opens up your point of view and gives you a side of the story that you may have not heard before.

The Impact of All American Boys

The last piece of evidence shows us how other people react to something like this and how it affects them, it reads as “I know this is all complicated, but think about what you’re doing to the Galluzzos.” She pointed to the shirt again. “What is all this? You’re not marching!” She paused, rubbed her forehead, and when she was calm again, she continued. “Honey, I know you think you are doing the right thing, but you aren’t.” “I think I am.” “No, what you are doing is thinking very selfishly.” She got up and poured herself a glass of water and stayed standing against the counter. “You think you are taking the moral high road, but what does this all mean for the rest of your family, Quinn? What does it mean for me and your brother?” “I’m kind of hoping you’ll have my back.” “No, Quinn. Look,” she continued. “Just step out of the way. Even if it’s ugly at school, this isn’t your fight. Why are you jumping into the middle of it?” “I’m already there, Ma. I was there Friday night. Ma, I saw it. I’m right in the middle of it, which is why I can’t do nothing.” She took a sip of water and stared at me. “Have you seen the video, Ma?” Willy turned to me. “I have.” “What?” Ma cried. “Why would either of you watch it? Watch the fool they’re making Paulie out to be? Do you see what you’ve done, Quinn? You’re just dragging us all into it with you.” “Ma,” I said, pushing back my chair and standing. “You’re already in the middle of it too. I think we all are.” This piece of evidence shows us things from Quinn’s point of view. It lets us see how his mother and brother reacted to his decision. The brother seemed supportive but the mother didn't seem too pleased. An important thing to note is whether is was bias or prejudice or whether she was trying to support the Galluzo family as they do have a connection. On the other hand, Quinn has decided to stand up for Rashad and others like him. He's going to the protest and trying to make a difference.


In final analysis, Jason Reynold’s and Brendan Kiely’s All American Boys is a book concerning several very real social issues like “Police Brutality” and “Racism”. I like this book for a number of reasons and I highly recommend it. Out of ten I give it a solid seven. The book gives the reader what would be a very realistic story concerning teenagers and adults alike struggling to come to terms with these social issues. They are all affected differently and they all act different ways. Some are angry, some are supportive and some want to make a difference and that is want this book is all about. All American Boys is a must read.

Updated: Feb 26, 2024
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All American Boys: Voices Unveiled Exploring Social Realities. (2024, Feb 26). Retrieved from

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