Summary (from Goodreads):
“When two brothers decide to prove how brave they are, everything backfires—literally.
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?”
Oh, you guys, this book.
I am a huge fan of Jason Reynolds anyway, and this is his middlegrade debut. It’s about family and it’s brilliant.
I love Genie and his older brother Ernie so much. And I love their grandparents. And Tess. Everyone, really. But everyone has that one summer where they do a lot of growing up (think Stand By Me) and this is Genie’s. I don’t want to go more in depth than that, because spoilers, but trust me: you need this book.
The book feels like magic and was just what I needed. If you want to start reading diverse books, this is a great place to start.