Narrator: Guy Lockard
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Social Themes, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Multigenerational, Boys & Men
Length: 7 hrs.
Also by this author: The Boy in the Black Suit
When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires - literally - in this piercing middle grade novel by the winner of the Coretta Scott King - Johnson Steptoe Award.
Genie's summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia - in the COUNTRY! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck, and being a curious kid, Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he covers it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans). How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it?
Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he's ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house - as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into - a room so full of songbirds and plants that it's almost as if it's been pulled inside out - he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all.
Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It's his 14th birthday, and Grandpop says to become a man you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie's reluctance, Genie is left to wonder, are bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won't do?
Jason Reynolds’ middle-grade debut As Brave as You features two Brooklyn siblings and their summer in Virginia. Genie and his older brother Ernie get to know their grandparents and learn about rural life while their parents take a vacation alone to reconnect.
I could so relate to eleven-year-old Genie and his worrying ways. Without the Internet, Genie writes down a list of all his questions that he needs to Google when he gets a chance. Ernie’s new friend Tess thankfully lets Genie use her computer so he can get some answers to his many questions, though some things he’ll have to figure out on his own.
Genie bonds with his Grandfather and asks lots of questions about his blindness, and wonders why this blind man is carrying a gun in his pants. The pair work on a secret project over the summer, and Genie has to put his problem-solving skills to work when complications arise.
Meanwhile, Genie and Ernie play outside and explore this new territory, clean up after the dog, and help their grandmother harvest and sell peas. They get to know the people of the town and try new foods like grits and sweet tea.
Unresolved family dramas come to the surface during the visit, as Grandpop is haunted by the past and trying to have a better relationship with his grandkids then he did with his own sons.
This is a really sweet summery family story balanced with humor and serious themes. I could have done without some of the bathroom humor, but I’m sure the target audience will appreciate that more. If you enjoy Reynolds’ excellent YA books I recommend you give his first MG book a try.
Guy Lockard (All American Boys) reads the As Brave as You audiobook and he is a wonderfully talented narrator. He reads with a lot of personality and makes each character shine. Lockard uses the right touch for the comedic scenes as well as the more emotional scenes. Reynolds + Lockard are an awesome pair. Take a listen: