Read The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds Online


Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she dJust when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away....

Title : The Boy in the Black Suit
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781442459502
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Boy in the Black Suit Reviews

  • Jillian Heise
    2018-08-12 06:55

    A quietly hopeful book that reaches for the heartstrings and makes the reader want to be and do better, while never seeming like that's what's happening. The balance this book strikes between grief and community and friendship and hope and relationships and strength and looking forward and really living life while taking place in an innercity neighborhood is what makes it so powerful. It has moments of brilliance that I wanted to bookmark and put on a poster on my wall, but in Jason Reynolds' writing style never felt preachy at all. I did not expect to be so touched by this book, but truly was. There is just something about this character, what he's struggling for, the relationships he has, and the way it is written that all worked for me. I want everyone to read The Boy in the Black Suit, and I'll start by handing it off to my students. Reynolds is an incredible new voice in children's literature, and I hope he sticks around for a very long time, because he is writing stories about kids in neighborhoods that need stories about kids like them and the people they know and things they go through every day, and this story just felt so real and honest, and that is thanks to the writing of Jason Reynolds.

  • Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner)
    2018-08-11 10:45

    Posted originally at my blog The Perpetual Page-Turner -- come hang out for book talk and more!I’m just saying this right now — Jason Reynolds is an extraordinary talent who needs WAY more recognition. I was so, so impressed with The Boy In The Black Suit. It’s smart, moving and1. The Boy in the Black Suit was a book that I related to immensely: It’s no secret that I gravitate to books dealing with grief –especially that of a parent– and Jason Reynolds explored this with such finesse and beauty. Now, if you hear “grief” in the summary and normally go running, I’m begging you not to. It wasn’t the ugly sobbing sort of book about grief and it most definitely is NOT all about grief. Rather it was just so quietly profound and piercing in its emotion as Matt grieves his mom and tries to find normalcy in the after and tries to deal with that crushing loneliness that seems to separate you from everyone else because nobody seems to be able to truly understand — whether or not that’s true. I cannot even tell you how many pages I dog-eared because I just kept nodding my head like, “YES. Exactly this. I felt this.” I understood his need to watch someone else’s raw grief to know he wasn’t alone. I just connected with him so much and Jason Reynolds tapped into something REAL and raw that made my heart ache.2. I loved the relationship between Matt & Lovey: I loved that Lovey doesn’t actually come into the picture right away because we really get to know Matt in a way I think we need to in order to show his loneliness but the downside to that is I WANTED MORE MATT AND LOVEY because they were just so smile inducing. Their connection is just so beautiful and honestly it reminds me a lot of how Will and I really connected for the first time in a real way. There’s something so isolating about grief and when you find someone who GETS it, it feels so intense. That’s how Will and I connected at first (I had just lost my mom and he had lost his mom when he was younger) and then it’s what brought us even closer together as a couple when he lost his dad a couple years into our relationship. What Matt and Lovey share is hard to describe but Jason Reynolds lets you FEEL it in such an honest way.3. Matt’s POV is one of the best male POVs I’ve read in a while: Truly, his POV was just so refreshing and really captivated me. This book is definitely a character driven novel and Matt felt like a leap off the pages type character to me. God, Jason Reynolds is just a fantastic writer.4. Mr Ray. That’s all I’m going to say: Look, you just need to meet Mr. Ray because he is one of my favorite secondary characters that I’ve met in a while.

  • Donalyn
    2018-07-21 08:45

    A quiet and beautiful story about a young man coming to terms with his mother's death and its aftermath. Jason Reynolds is a remarkable talent.

  • Adam Silvera
    2018-08-13 10:59

    "A lot of hard lives and young faces." This line pretty much sums up the lives of the characters and I loved watching Matt and Lovey grow from their tragedies. Check it out!

  • paula
    2018-07-23 04:48

    The ONLY reason this realistic book that is by turns funny and heart-wrenching did not get 5 stars from me is the author's reliance on coincidence to stitch his story up at the end. Dear Jason Reynolds - your story and certainly your characters are strong enough to carry the tale through to a satisfying conclusion without tying up all the loose ends in a bow. You can let 'em finish messy. Love, Paula

  • Naoms
    2018-08-13 05:13

    Originally Posted at Confessions of an Opinionated Book Geek I am having a renaissance. It’s cultural, personal and steeped in my own identity. I am reading writers of color and characters of color. This seems obvious. I’m black. I am of color. I am from the Bronx. I was born in the city and bred in the hood. Of course, I read books about people like me. Only, for most of my life I haven’t. In high school I was handed F. Scott Fitzgerald, S.E. Hinton and J.D. Salinger. I read and reread The Outsiders so many times, because somehow in my heart I connected with these white teens, who were poor, lived on the wrong side of town and buried friends. I got that. Because, I was poor, I lived on the wrong side of town and I buried friends. For the longest time, I thought that S.E. Hinton would be the closet I’d ever get to what my life was and has been. Then I met Adam Silvera, and Jason Reynolds and suddenly I was awake.Suddenly, in order to get characters of color I don’t have to read “urban” novels that I consumed like candy in my youth. It’s not all about The Coldest Winter Ever or Push. Now, I have More Happy Than Not, that is human story about kids who live in neighborhoods not too far from where I grew up, with a sci-fi edge. I can read When I Was The Greatest and get invited to the hottest house party in Brooklyn or I can go on the journey of lost, grief and acceptance with Matt in The Boy in The Black Suit.I love this book, because of its simple complexity. For years, with my love of werwolves and vampires and space ships, I forget that a story doesn’t need complex time travel loops in order to be good. A story can be about a young man who has to move on from the greatest loss of his life. Simple. And, yet emotionally compelling. Matt, with his simple and chill look at the world pulls you in. He’s the kid who lived next door from you, no matter where you grew up. He’s that kid, who is nice to his peers, respectful of his elders and trying to figure out who he is. He’s the kid who does not deserve the life that has suddenly been given to him. Which is what makes his journey so compelling. He doesn’t deserve it. How will he react when his life gets flip turned upside down?Something I love about Jason Reynolds is that he gives you the hood, and all of it’s truths without being over the top. Just because you live in Brooklyn doesn’t mean you’ve held a gun. Doesn’t mean you’re best friends with a drug dealer. It doesn’t mean that you have beef with rival gangs. Does that life exist outside the walls of your apartment or house? Yes. Does it have to be your truth?No. It doesn’t. There’s this thing in literature and movies where if you come from a certain place your life has to be an NWA album. It doesn’t. That stuff can touch your life, but it doesn’t have to be your life.Jason Reynolds gives us truth. We know the world on the other side of the door, but we get the inside. The loving mother who taught you everything you need to know to survive. The best friend, who is loyal to you in the midst of everything. The girl, you meet by chance who makes your heart beat again after all the heartache.This book made me sad, it made me laugh, it showed me a world, a culture and a neighborhood so apart of me that I rarely get to see it in books, tv, or the movies.This book is so real and yet so entertaining and so thought provoking. Jason Reynolds doesn’t have to draw out in minute detail why Matt puts on his suit every day and goes to the funeral home. We get it. We feel it in the pages, we feel Matt’s emotions. His confusions, his heartache, and we feel it when his heart begins to mend, when he begins to heal, even though he will always have hole there that was his mother.I highly recommend this book and also everything by Jason Reynolds. Just too good to miss out on. Reccomended for fans of Adam Silvera, Nicola Yoon, Jennifer Niven and Walter Dean Meyers.

  • Trinity N
    2018-07-26 06:12

    Matt's life went downhill ever since his mom died. His father became a drunk and acts like everything's ok. But it's not. Matt earned a job that earned him $30 a day witch isn't too bad, since the Cluck Bucket probably pays a lot less. Oh, did I mention that his job is a pallbearer? Yep, that's right. He works at a funeral house. He's fine with it though, because it lets him know he's not alone when it comes to death. He slips into back of the funerals and watches them until it's over. It doesn't matter if he has no clue who they are. He doesn't enjoy watching people cry over the lost, but it comforts him to let him know that he has some grief to give too. Then, on particular day, when he was pallbearing and slipping into the back of the funeral, he listens to a girl named Lovey. Yes, is a ridiculous name, but her speech made Matt's life sound like a piece of cake. She lost her parents and said that this was the funeral for her grandmother. Here's the catch: she won't cry about it. Her eyes were dry but remorseful and sad, yet had confidence in them at all the same time. Matt admires her for that, and they begin to get to know each other and find something shocking. This book. May have grief in it, but the grief is not that bad where it makes you cry. Instead, for those who lost their loved one, can relate. Readers who enjoy romance and cliffhangers will enjoy this witty, loving, and caring book.

  • Shaun Hutchinson
    2018-08-12 06:03

    Damn. This book. Just...damn. A beautifully written, quiet, character study of a young man who seeks solace after his mother's death by attending the funerals of others. Jason Reynolds is amazing. Read this book.

  • Siyona N
    2018-07-21 09:09

    When Matt's mom dies from breast cancer everything falls apart. For instance, his father starts drinking again a habit he stopped so he could marry Matt's mom. News spreads like wildfire through Matt's town so when he goes back to school everyone treats him like the boy with a dead mama. At least Chris ( his best friend ) doesn't treat him differently. His dad stops working so Matt tries to find work at Cluck Bucket a joint near his house. At Cluck Bucket, Matt meets a girl who he thinks is named Renee because of the name necklace hanging around her neck. Her name is actually Lovey and she has gone through a lot. Mr. Ray turns up to Cluck Bucket to get dinner and ends up giving Matt a job at his funeral home as well. Mr. Ray's Funeral Home pays him enough money to get dinner and pay the bills. He does that even though seventeen years old is too young to have to act like a proper adult! Matt is very upset about his mother's passing but he finds that watching other people who were close to the passed person at funerals makes him feel that he isn't the only one who feels like that. One day at a funeral, he recognizes the person closest to the passed person. It is Lovey from Cluck Bucket. Matt tries to look for a breakdown from her but she never sheds a tear. Lovey makes a speech and Matt finds out that Lovey never met her dad, her mom was killed, and this was her grandma's funeral. Matt accidentally stays until the after party where he and Lovey talk. Later they get together and start dating. I think it is nice for Matt to have Lovey to talk to because he understands what he's been through. Then Matt's dad gets run over by a car and almost dies. Read The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds to find out what happens to Lovey, Matt, and his dad. There are not many books that are similar to this book because it is truly different than anything that I have read before, but if you like books that start out gloomy but get happier then you would really like this book! What I liked about this book was that it showed how when you are feeling down and gloomy you can use one little thing to make you feel better, then you see that that little thing that made you happy then could turn into something great that always makes you happy. What I didn't like about the book was the actions of Matt's dad after his wife died. I can't blame him for making those choices because his wife and son were his life before, but I didn't like where that choice took him. I think book left me exhilarated and feeling thankful that I have a full family and so many things to make me happy.

  • Kelly
    2018-08-18 05:12

    A really solid, quick read about a boy working through his own personal grief by working at a funeral home and building new relationships. It's a quieter book, but emotionally resonant. The romance that buds between Matt and Love is sweet and realistic -- it's not immediate, it's not hot-and-heavy, and it's (view spoiler)[ not an easy reward. (hide spoiler)]More to come. It was refreshing to read a story like this from a black teen boy's point of view.

  • Heather Taake
    2018-08-15 10:11

    All hail, Jason Reynolds! The man can write no wrong. I loved this book. It's a perfect mixture of grief and hope and humor. Reynolds writes in a way that is gut-wrenching, yet beautiful. Go read everything with his name on it. No really, go right now!

  • Wendy Darling
    2018-08-09 07:06

    I liked the narrative voice and I liked the protagonist, but I set it down about halfway through. I think it was lacking the spark I was looking for, in the dialogue and in emotion. I'd try another book by this author down the road, though.

  • Kristen
    2018-07-23 10:50

    I was a LITTLE disappointed in this one...mostly because of how much I loved Jason Reynolds' When I Was the Greatest. Like Ali, Matt is an African American teen in a rough neighborhood who does his best to make good choices, but this narrative just doesn't have the same punch that Ali's did. There's not as much character interaction--much of the narrative is just Matt's internal thoughts--and the most interesting interactions are those he has with Lovey, who doesn't appear until halfway through the book.I think my students are going to have trouble relating to Matt's fascination with funerals after his mother's death--it's a deep issue and the roots aren't really explored here since our narrator is a teenager--and the slower pacing is going to be somewhat of a turn off. They'll probably like the coincidental connection between Matt and Lovey at the end, but I thought it was a stretch.

  • Lekeisha The Booknerd
    2018-07-31 08:01

    Read Full ReviewMatt is a character that I truly love and respect. Despite his grief, he manages to take care of himself and his dad. He still has moments when he can’t shake the pain of his mother’s death but he deals the best way that he can. Meeting Lovey was the best thing that could happen to him. When you find that person who has been through worse hell than you have, and they seem to be doing just fine, you want to get to that point. Though, making yourself tough to hide the pain is just like a walking straight through the doors of depression. It’s a process, you can’t bottle that up and keep it inside. Lovey shows Matt that it’s all smoke and mirrors when dealing with hard stuff in life. You can grieve, but just don’t let it take over your life. She was so good for him and I found their connection beautiful.

  • Cindy
    2018-07-28 03:48

    reynolds made me laugh and broke my heart at thesame time. such a wonderfully written, honest novel,about grief and loss and life and love. my first read byreynolds, and i'm looking forward to reading more!!i love his narrative voice!

  • Sara (A Gingerly Review)
    2018-07-24 06:12

    Jason Reynolds can write a damn good story but this was just alright for me. I started to lose interest the closer I got to the end. :(FRTC

  • Beth
    2018-08-09 10:12

    Matthew Miller is still reeling from the loss of his mother, but now he must deal with his father who is drinking to numb his feelings. To help pay the bills, Matt has been given a job by Mr. Willie Ray, a friend of the family's, at his funeral home. Matt finds working there and attending these strangers' funerals oddly comforting as he continues to navigate his own grief alone.One day, while working another funeral, Matt meets Lovey. A girl with a strange name, but who appears mature and composed despite the death of the grandmother who raised her. As the two become closer, Matt finds himself both smitten and confounded. Confident and insecure. One thing is for sure though, as Matt grieves over not just the physical loss of his mother, but the emotional loss of his father, he sees what a special connection he shares with Lovey, one that they will eventually discover goes back to their childhood.Jason Reynold's 2014 debut novel, When I was the Greatest, was one of my favorite books of 2014. It deals with the topics of family, friendship, and community with tenderness and sensitivity. In Jason Reynolds' sophomore YA novel, The Boy in the Black Suit, he tackles the topic of grief with that same gentle sensitivity. Reynolds is a voice in young adult literature that is so desperately needed right now. Reynolds wants readers to see the side of his neighborhood and those like it, and hear from characters that most people don't automatically associate with the words Bed Stuy. (Do a Google search of Bed Stuy and the second thing that pops up under auto-fill is "Bed Stuy crime.")My one complaint about The Boy in the Black Suit is that it didn't seem long enough. At just over 250 pages, it felt like it needed 50 more pages and could have used some tightened editing because there were a few things left unresolved or unadressed that readers will undoubtedly question. As a voracious reader, I understand that everything doesn't need to be tied up in a neat little bow by the last page, but a mention of the things left unresolved would also make the ending feel more satisfying. Some strands never wove together into a definitive denouement. So when I came to the last page, I thought for sure there was be another chapter, and was surprised when I turned the page and had come to the end.I am someone who gravitates toward character-driven novels, and that is what Jason Reynolds does best. Matt Miller is a character you want to know. You feel for him. You want to be friends with him. And you want to know how his story ends. Which is why my affection for Matt has left me wanting more.Even with my dissatisfaction about the way The Boy in the Black Suit ends, Jason Reynolds has quickly become a must-read, no-questions-asked author for me. That has been even further reinforced by his poem-a-day in April on his blog. His poetry is so profound despite its few words. But I already knew that based on the amazing book he co-authored with his friend Jason Griffin called My Name is Jason. Mine Too. Our Story. Our Way, an under-the-radar book that will undoubtedly be getting more attention now that Jason's star is on the rise. I've already got his 2016 novel, Long Way Down, on my Goodreads TBR list despite very little information about it. I am looking forward to reading ALL THE BOOKS from Jason Reynolds. I don't doubt he will have a long and storied career. Read my entire review on my blog.

  • Brandy Painter
    2018-08-11 05:59

    Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds came out the first week of the year. I heard good things from several people, and was eager to try on of Reynold's books. Boy was I not disappointed.Matt Miller is a boy who wears a black suit to school every day. His mom died of cancer recently, but that's not the reason for the suit. Matt, a senior on an abbreviated schedule due to good grades, works every day at a local funeral home. He arranges flowers, sets up buffets, washes cars, and sometimes acts as pall bearer. He also attends most of the funerals. Sitting in the back, he soaks up every ounce of heart splitting grief he can. Matt has close friends, both old and new, who are there for him though and don't allow him to get swallowed up in his own grief. Friends who will have his back, broaden his horizons, and bring him back, little by little, into the world of the living.Matt's world shrunk considerably when his mom died. He lost his position at the bank he was supposed to be working at for school. His father started drinking again after years of sobriety. He lost almost all the joy in his life. Matt loves to cook but finds he can't because it reminds him too much of his mom. In the days closest to her death, you can see that he is only hanging on by the barest of threads. As the days and weeks pass, it gets a little easier. His method of coping is a bit odd. He goes to the funerals and focuses on the person who appears closest to the deceased, and then eagerly awaits for the breakdown of grief he knows is coming. Like living vicariously through these grieving people keeps his own close enough that he never forgets what he's lost. Then his father ends up in the hospital and he's living alone. I felt so bad for Matt and worried for him. But I like his progression away from his grief too. He slowly begins to live a little. He hangs out with his best friend, who works hard to keep things as normal as possible between them. Matt's new boss becomes his mentor, sharing the hard times of his own life and giving Matt advice. Then there is Love, a girl Matt meets who brightens his world. She expands it too, dragging Matt into places he's never been and sharing her own pains. Through his relationships with the people around him, Matt takes his steps back into his full self, slightly altered but with a sense of purpose and reason to keep living.The relationships and community are central aspect of The Boy in the Black Suit, and I found them all equally real, important, and necessary. This book showcases how the people in a person's life can make all the difference in times of crisis. I enjoyed all of the interactions between Matt and the other characters from the playful typical teenage banter he shares with Chris to the deep philosophical discussions with Mr. Ray to the tentatively healing superficial conversations with his dad to the gamut of conversations he has with Love, all of them are important and fit the characters and setting.The setting of Bed-Stuy is fully realized as well, showcasing a community of diverse people with different motivations, pasts, potential futures, problems, jobs, and lifestyles. I really felt like I was experiencing the streets, restaurants, noises, and hilariously frightening cab drives right along with Matt.The Boy in the Black Suit is an excellent look at the process of grief and the importance of community.

  • Richie Partington
    2018-07-23 07:14

    Richie’s Picks: THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT by Jason Reynolds, Atheneum, January 2015, 272p., ISBN: 978-1-4424-5950-2“I don’t need no money, fortune, or fameI’ve got all the riches baby one man can claim”Smokey Robinson and Ronald White, “My Girl” (1964)“We started up the block, our cement world of trash cans blown into the street, stray cats begging, stoop sitters dressed in fresh sneakers smoking blunts in broad daylight, old ladies sweeping the sidewalk, tired nine-to-fivers walking slowly on the final stretch before home. The buses, and cabs, and bicycles, and skateboards. The shop owners hollering out their two-for-one deals. The little girls singing, the older boys laughing, the babies crying, and the two of us moving through it all.”Matthew Miller’s mother has died, and his father has quickly become a basket case. After 20 years of sobriety thanks to Matt’s mom, his father’s drinking again. Seventeen-year-old Matt needs to find part-time work after school to help pay the bills. He’s very much on his own.Matt narrowly avoids a grimy job at the Cluck Bucket fast food place. Fortunately, he bumps into Mr. Ray, the funeral home owner he met at his mother’s service. Mr. Ray offers him an after-school job. (No, he won’t have to touch dead bodies.) Trying to heal from his loss and loneliness, Matt begins paying attention to the funerals at work. He watches other bereaved people deal with their pain and tries to understand how he might get past his own. Matt wears his work clothes--his black suit--to school, which is why the book is called THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT.Meanwhile, Love is a young woman whom Matt’s seen working at Cluck Bucket. They have their first real meeting at Matt’s workplace, crossing paths at Love’s grandmother’s funeral. Love, an orphan, has been living with her grandmother. Now she, too, is very much on her own.I’ve read many contemporary young adult novels that feature an exceptionally quirky teen character finding someone to hang with, or two exceptionally quirky teen characters finding one other. In contrast, Matt and Love are both young everyday people, decent teens stuck in tough positions in a tough neighborhood. Finding one another is a salvation. There is authenticity to these characters, the Bedford-Stuyvesant setting, and the tragedies in their lives and their neighborhood. It’s easy to connect with Matt and Love. Mr. Ray, the funeral home owner, is a complex adult character. He’d once been a promising athlete, but his career ended before it started because of a terrible injury. He becomes a friend and positive father figure to Matt while also working out his own issues.Well-crafted and thoughtful, THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT shows how a pair of young people can come to care about and help each other in a rough and often unforgiving world.Richie Partington, MLISRichie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.comBudNotBuddy@aol.com

  • Kelly Hager
    2018-07-31 11:13

    I hadn't heard anything about this book before it showed up at my house one day. It sounded interesting (and you know how I love books about grief) and so I planned to slip it very high up the TBR pile. I mention that so you know that this book quickly became an anticipated read of mine and also to let you know that this book completely caught me off guard.Like Matt, I lost a parent in high school and I absolutely agree with him that at that age, your grief isolates you. You don't know anyone else who's lost a parent (and there's no guarantee that they've even lost a grandparent). I didn't start crashing funerals but I can absolutely get the idea that you see people who are experiencing the same loss you've had and it...well, it doesn't really help but it does make you feel less alone.I love the characters in this book---Matt and his best friend Chris and his boss Mr. Ray but especially Lovey. Lovey is wonderful and I hope there's a sequel. I absolutely adore this book. Highly recommended.

  • Sue (Hollywood News Source)
    2018-07-26 11:02

    The Boy in the Black Suit is included in Hollywood News Source's 10 YA Books To Read For Mental Health Awareness Month.I love the authentic voice of the main character, though perhaps the ingenious and unique portrayal of grief struck me the most.It's extremely heartfelt.

  • Sarah (YA Love)
    2018-08-04 04:03

    The audio was too slow so I finished by reading the rest of the physical book. This isn't a flashy, exciting novel by any means, but it's a great look at the different ways people grieve and move past grief.

  • LaGaryce
    2018-07-21 05:06

    How I struggled to finish this! It kind of always felt like nothing was really happening. Would not recommend.

  • Edward Sullivan
    2018-07-24 04:53

    A poignant, realistic, affecting story with some nice doses of humor.

  • MissFabularian
    2018-08-05 02:45!The-Boy-in-t...

  • Jennifer
    2018-07-23 03:54

    Jason Reynolds can do no wrong! Another amazing story, with a main character who draws you in and makes you laugh and cry. Also, there is no understating how awesome some of the secondary characters are in this story (like the narrator’s mom who has just passed but leaves her mark on the story in tons of little ways, the neighborhood funeral director who has a few stories of his own, and the wise-beyond-her-years Love).

  • Rich in Color
    2018-08-01 10:08

    Review originally published in January on RichInColor.comEver love a book so much that you are momentarily struck dumb and all you can do is squee? Well, that’s how I feel about Jason Reynold’s “The Boy in the Black Suit”. I have been trying to write this review for days but I couldn’t get much farther than, “I love this book so much and you should read it!” Obviously, I have to find the words to describe why I liked Reynold’s novel, but what my review will most likely come down to is, “I loved this book so much and you should read it!”First off, Matt Miller’s voice. I absolutely loved it! Matt is a character whom everyone can relate to because he is a thoughtful young man dealing with a life changing experience and is trying to make sense of his world. The novel begins just weeks after his mother’s death and he is still reeling from the grief, as any son who has had a close relationship with his mother would. He finds high school to be trivial, which makes sense because he’s lost his mother and his father is not handling his own grief in a productive way. In fact, his dad is loosing himself in alcohol and eventually winds up in the hospital leaving Matt on his own. Matt takes it upon himself to find a job and through a twist of fate, ends up working for Mr. Ray, the neighborhood mortician. And through this relationship the beauty of the novel comes through. Having survived cancer twice, Mr. Ray befriends Matt and basically becomes the father that Matt needs. Their relationship is touching and one of the strongest parts of the novel. The two are able to joke around with each other, but also share the secrets of their hearts. Matt is able to talk to Mr. Ray in a way that he doesn’t with his best friend or even his father. It’s clear that Matt respects Mr. Ray immensely and looks to him for advice and guidance. Their Thanksgiving, where they’re just watching football and talking about Matt’s date, is one of the best scenes in the novel. Being that Matt works in a mortuary, one of the main themes in this novel is death and grief. In the hands of a lesser author, “Boy in the Black Suit” could have failed miserably, but Reynold’s novel is a touching, quiet story that handles the concept grief with deftness that pulls the reader into Matt’s story and his journey through the grieving process. To understand his grief, and make sense of his mother’s death, Matt tends to watch the funerals, watching the family members, finding solace in the grief that they share. Again, in the hands of a lesser author, the modes of Matt’s grieving process could come across as odd, but instead, the reader feels for Matt, even empathizes with him. It was in those moments, when Matt was looking for answers to his grief in the tears of the other mourners that I really felt/connected with him. At no point, however, did I ever feel sorry for Matt and that is what makes “Boy in the Black Suit” such a powerful novel. Lastly, I enjoyed Reynold’s first novel, “When I was the Greatest”, but I loved this novel even more. The writing is much stronger and much more touching. It is a quiet novel with moments that pull at your heart strings and moments that make you laugh out loud. Matt’s story is one that is universal as we’ve all lost someone close to us and we must make sense of our grief and the loss of a loved one. It’s a novel of learning how to move forward after that person is gone and learning how to find one’s place in a family again.

  • L.A.
    2018-08-10 04:12

    There is a curious paradox that no one can explain.Matthew Miller's mother died of cancer the summer before his senior year of high school, and he's not handling it well. Not that you'd know to look at him: he manages to keep it together at school, and with his dad, but inside he feels wrecked and hopeless. When Mr. Ray, the funeral home director, offers him a job, Matt is skeptical. He finds, however, that hanging around and helping out with the business of death makes it a little easier to work out his own pain. And then he meets a girl named Love, who, like her namesake, manages to open up his heart even wider.Aaaaaah, this book. Well-deserving of its Coretta Scott King Award honor book status, Reynolds's story is a candid look at the mysteries of death and dying, the process of grieving, and how people get stuck, move forward, and slide backward during the process. Matt is smart, but otherwise fairly ordinary, making him somebody teen readers will be able to identify with. Love, for her part, is tender but tough, and wise for her age. Their relationship is true to contemporary teen shenanigans, but also very serious and soulful, because they recognize each other as kindred spirits, in a way. Mr. Ray, the funeral home director, is a delightful adult the likes of which you don't often see in books for teens, a real role model and good guy without coming across as a preachy square dude. Subplots involving Matt's father and Mr. Ray's past are interesting, but not really delved into (one of Matt's dad's problems, in particular, gets swept under the rug without resolution, the only clinker in an otherwise solid narrative). The details of the funeral services and "repasts" (what some folks call the wake or collection) help readers immerse themselves in Matt and Love's world, and get comfortable with the vocabulary of death. Love may seem too good to be true to some readers, but clearly they've never a) heard of metaphor, or b) lost a loved one to SPOILER. Recommended for all YA collections, especially in urban areas.

  • Agnė
    2018-08-06 03:07

    The Boy in the Black Suit is a quiet, honest, realistic and beautifully written book with easily relatable characters about dealing with death and other unexpected turns of life.I really appreciated the fact that the main character, an African American teenage boy Matt, is portrayed in a very unstereotypical way (he is vulnerable and loves cooking), and the book itself is not about racial issues as it focuses on sameness rather than difference.Also, I LOVE the metaphor of life as the card game "I Declare War," and not the chess, because it is so very true that life never turns out as planned. In Jason Reynolds' own words, everybody says that chess is the game of life because you can strategize and plan out each move. But that’s bullshit because you can’t. You can try to. The truth of the matter is that chess is not the game of life because life does not ever happen the way you strategize and plan. Life is like I Declare War. I turn a card. You turn a card. Sometimes you win. Sometimes I win. Sometimes we both lose. Sometimes I lose over, over, and over again. Things can turn at the drop of a hat. Things can shift overnight. My life a year ago is vastly different than it is today. Five years ago I was homeless, and five years before that I vowed to everyone that I would never write novels. But as long as there are cards to play then the opportunity for victory is always there. We just don’t know how it’s going to fall. The key is to acknowledge and be grateful for the fact that there are still cards.

  • Trixi
    2018-08-10 09:46

    Definitely deserving of the Coretta Scott King honor award. Matthew Miller has had a good life in Bed-Stuy. Loving parents, a good friend and has managed to stay out of trouble. But the death of his mother changes things for him. Trying to cope, school has become tedious and many classmates simply ignore him, and Matthew feels that no one can really understand what he is feeling. While Matthew's slowly coming to terms with his mother's death, his father turns to alcohol and ends up hospitalized when he's hit by a car. His original work-study job was given to someone else while he was out for the funeral, but his neighbor, Mr. Ray, who runs the neighborhood funeral home offers him a job. Being in the funeral home offers him a sense of "belonging" and certainly a sense of peace as he attends every funeral, focusing on the person he thinks is suffering from the loss of a loved one, just as he did. During one funeral, he happens to meet a girl, Lovey, who is just about his age and has just lost her grandmother. But he's impressed when she doesn't break down during the funeral, instead showing great strength. Their friendship grows and as he learns from her a different way to cope with death, he becomes much stronger in dealing with his own loss. Matt is a well-written character. As a reader, I really was pulling for him to accept the death and continue on the path he'd been on and not to become hardened due to his life experiences.