#CBR7 Review #43: The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

The Chancellor and I were trying to decide how we heard of this novel. Eventually, we agreed that we saw it at Barnes and Noble as part of a Black History Month display, and then he’d added it on Goodreads, which meant *I* added it on Goodreads. Man, we’re book dorks. Anyway, it’s been part of a ginormous library stack that I didn’t have time to get to till this afternoon. Did I mention that one of the perks of becoming doctor in the middle of the semester is that suddenly I have a LOT of reading time now? I polished this book off in an afternoon.

Here’s the premise: Matt Miller has just lost his mom. He can’t seem to cope by slipping into his old high school routine, and his father has turned to alcohol. A lot of alcohol. A chance encounter at the local fast-food joint, the Cluck Hut, lands Matt a job at the funeral home, where he chooses to wear a black suit to look more professional. As he’s grappling with his mother’s death and his father’s disconnection, he begins to forge connections of his own, particularly with a charismatic and mysterious young woman whose constitution is stronger and tougher than his.

I liked this novel, especially the authenticity of Matt’s narrative voice. It’s an endearing story, and I really rooted for him as a character. What kept this from being a higher-rated novel was that it just felt a bit too neatly tied up at the end. Having previously read Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover, I felt this suffered a bit in plot resolution. It was good, but kind of saccharine, which made the whole experience decent, rather than amazing. I still recommend this book, especially for high school students.


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