93 pages 3 hours read

Brendan Kiely, Jason Reynolds

All American Boys

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2015

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Important Quotes

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“I just wanted him to stop beating me. I just wanted to live. Each blow earthquaked my insides, crushing parts of me I had never seen, parts of me I never knew were there. ‘Fuckin’ thugs can’t just do what you’re told. Need to learn how to respect authority. And I’m gonna teach you,’ he taunted, almost whispering in my ear.” 

(Chapter 1, Page 23)

Rashad’s thoughts while being beaten illustrate how brutal police officer Paul Galluzzo’s attack is, as Rashad isn’t even sure if he’ll survive. Paul is clearly using a level of force entirely unnecessary for the situation. In addition, Paul’s comments about “fuckin’ thugs” indicate that the beating is not a personal attack on Rashad, but rather an act motivated Paul’s prejudice against African-Americans and his own need to assert power.

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“I wasn’t a stand-in for Dad. Nobody could be that. When the IED got him in Afghanistan, he became an instant saint in Springfield. I wasn’t him. I’d never be him. But I was still supposed to try. That was my role: the dutiful son, the All-American boy with an All-American fifteen-foot deadeye jump shot and an All-American 3.5 GPA.”

(Chapter 2, Page 27)

Quinn introduces the idea of the “All-American boy,” which becomes important throughout the novel. Feeling he must live up to the example set by his dead father, Quinn creates a very traditional definition of an All-American young man, one who excels in sports and school and is loyal to his family. Quinn’s concept of what it means to be All-American extends beyond this rather stereotypical viewpoint as the book continues.

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“‘And how many times have I told you and Spoony, I mean, since y’all were young we’ve been going over this. Never fight back. Never talk back. Keep your hands up. Keep your mouth shut. Just do what they ask you to do, and you’ll be fine.’”

(Chapter 3, Pages 49-50)

Rashad’s father places the blame on Rashad for the beating he suffered. In David’s viewpoint, it’s the blacks’ responsibility to actively avoid taking on stereotypes or challenging the status quo to avoid being damaged by racism. David places the blame with the victims of racism, rather than with the perpetrators.