'All American Boys' Takes On Race And Police Violence In New Young Adult Novel

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On Wednesday, the trial of Baltimore police officer William Porter ended in a hung jury. Porter was accused of four charges including manslaughter in the case of Freddie Gray, a black man from Baltimore who ended up dying in April of wounds inflicted during his arrest.

William Porter was the first of six officers in the case to go to court. Porter is a black man. The jury could not agree on any of the four counts against him.

That uncertainty — and the fact that these questions of police brutality and racism are not so black and white — is one of the central issues in All American Boys, a new young adult novel co-written by one black and one white author.

All American Boys is told from two perspectives: Rashad, a black high school student who is wrongly beaten by a white police officer, and Quinn, a white classmate who witnesses the beating.


Jason Reynolds, poet and co-author of All American Boys. He tweets @JasonReynolds83.

Brendan Kiely, former high school teacher and co-author of All American Boys. He tweets @KielyBrendan.


The Boston Globe: Novelists Team Up For Teen Book On Race And Police

  • "After a few days, Reynolds and Kiely broke the ice, and they found they were in agreement that justice had not been served in the Zimmerman case. 'Once we started talking about it, we really started talking about it,' Reynolds said. The more similar incidents became national news, 'the further we went down the rabbit hole,' he said. In the wake of the shooting death in Ferguson of Michael Brown, Kiely suggested the two authors address the issue of racial profiling head-on — by writing a novel about it together."

This segment aired on December 17, 2015.


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