Jason Reynolds says his new book will be easy for teachers to use in school, “plucking out stories and doing close readings that teach tone, setting, plot and character in 10 pages.”
DC novelist and poet Jason Reynolds credits music by acts like Tupac Shakur for the spare, searing words in his award-winning books. “It’s about acrobatics of language and irreverence,” says the author, who was born in the District and lives in Kingman Park. “I feel like I can do whatever I want on the page, and that moxie comes from hip-hop.” In his 13 books for young readers, Reynolds chronicles kids dealing with real-life issues. His latest novel, Look Both Ways ($18, Simon & Schuster), is out this month and composed of linked short stories. “Young people need to be met where they are, and I think short pieces can give this macro view of a whole world.” Reynolds moved back from Brooklyn a few years ago to be near family. He’s immersed himself here. “DC is changing so rapidly. It feels rampant in an interesting way.” He’s inspired by the arts, go-go music and libraries. “I love going to the Library of Congress. That library card... is like a chocolate factory gold gift card!” And he’ll turn these pages this fall.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates “I’m curious to read his fiction. I think he’s a brilliant mind, and I can’t wait to see how he, and I say this reluctantly, spins slavery into something fresh.”
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson “First of all, Jacqueline Woodson can do no wrong in my eyes. But, beyond that, any story that explores black intergenerational relationships excites me. There’s something about familial continuum that always reads deliciously.”
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi “Emezi is one of the most inventive writers I’ve read in a long time. Her adult work and essays have been nothing short of brilliant, and I’m expecting the same kind of courageous writing in the young adult space.”