Kirkus Award Finalist
Schneider Family Book Award Winner
Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book
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 fourteenth 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--is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won't do?
- ISBN-13: 9781481415903
- ISBN-10: 1481415905
- Publisher: Atheneum Books
- Publish Date: May 2016
- Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Page Count: 432
- Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Young generation's eyes
BookPage Children's Top Pick, May 2016
Genie Harris’ parents are “having problems” and are heading to Jamaica to figure things out. In the meantime, 11-year-old Genie and his older brother, Ernie, are to spend a month with their grandparents in North Hill, Virginia. Most of Genie’s story revolves around his blind Grandpop—his conflict with Genie’s father, his regrets over Genie’s Uncle Wood, his lonely seclusion in a room surrounded by caged birds, his intention to go through with a ritual to make Ernie a man on his 14th birthday, and the mystery of the yellow house out back, with a tree growing right through it and swarms of birds ever present.
Jason Reynolds’ middle-grade debut demonstrates the love of story apparent in all of his novels. With a palpable affection for his characters and their slowly unfolding stories, Reynolds writes with subtle humor and an ear for the apt simile (blind Grandpop’s eyes are “like fogged-up windows”) as he crafts one memorable scene after another. And if it’s Grandpop Harris who is blind, it’s Genie who learns to see and come to understand that even his “white-toothed crazyman” of a grandfather is brave. Though his family history includes suicide, a death in war, parents with problems and a grandfather with fears and regrets, Genie’s penchant for asking questions and observing those around him serves him well as he learns empathy and sees—in each of his family members and himself—the possibility of change and of making amends for the past.