Jason Reynolds is one of my go-to authors for choice reading, with engaging and interesting characters, unique settings, and storylines that keep me thinking for months after I finish a story. As Brave As You is another hit on the list.
In the opening scene, 2 brothers are scooping up dog poop and flinging it at trees in the woods behind Grandma and Grandpa’s house. What middle grade child wouldn’t want to keep reading? Genie and Ernie, Jr. are Brooklyn-raised brothers who are spending time in North Hill, Virginia for a month while Mom and Dad try to work out some issues. City boys in the country? Bound to be adventures. And there are many adventures — and family secrets — to discover.
A young lady, Tess, catches Ernie’s eye as a neighbor and friend. She makes her own jewelry to sell at the flea market, she’s smart, and she’s funny. The more the plot moves forward, the more you see Ernie and Tess together. Country life isn’t all easy, though. Getting up early to do chores (choosing peas to pick at just the right moment), taking care of Samantha, the dog, and watching out for the family are tasks that sometimes overwhelm Genie, especially. Genie is curious and asks many questions (which he records in his notebook), which may or may not lead to each new adventure — and maybe even get him into some trouble.
My favorite part of this book so far is how the characters remind me so much of my own grandma and grandpa. Memories of childhood revisited: Grandma teaching the kids the right way to do chores, Grandpop eating a whole apple (core and all!), and playing outside with the dog. As the story moves, the reader moves, too, along the path of discovery of what it means to be brave.
I continue to read tonight, to find more answers with Genie, and to treasure my last few moments of summer with this family in Virginia. When you get a chance, pick up As Brave As You, and enjoy your own adventure with Genie and Ernie.