It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

I read a Coretta Scott King Award Winner last week entitled “When I Was The Greatest” by Jason Reynolds.  I hope some other people in class have an opportunity to read this story and check it off our book bingo sheet.  If I was to say one thing about the book, it would be simply be “it’s a good story.”  The narrative is never stagnant and action is happening regularly, keeping everything fresh and alive.


This book covers inner city culture and the joys and struggles of the protagonist, Ali.  The book is told in the first person.  The main theme of the story is loyalty, and the extremes people go to to prove it, even if it proves detrimental for themselves.  This book arrives at the question, “When do we let go of unhealthy friendships?” or  “How do we solve our friends and family?”  Ali is a young teenager, fifteen, in Brooklyn living with his mother and sister.  Soon enough, conflict in the book arises when two brother move in next door with their mother.  Ali forms a friendship with the two brothers, Noodles and Needles (the book uses nicknames for everyone).  Needles has likes to knit to keep his turrets under control, Noodles likes to draw comics, and Ali likes to box.  Even though Needles is the brother with a “disability” it is clear that Noodles is going to be the one to drag the other two down, but not in the traditional sense of drugs and crime.   The book centers around the preparation for an exclusive party, and the fifteen year old boys are somehow admitted, and this is where the serious conflict arises.  I won’t give the entire book away but it does not disappoint.

If you want to know more about inner city culture for young adults then I would suggest this book.  Also if you want to study writing and how to develop “setting as its own character” then this book is for you.  The book also offers great commentary on the disability of Needles and how the brotherhood of Needles and Noodles is bound to fail without intervention.  The book is a great guide for young adults on the importance of family, friends, and hobbies over being drug down into the muck of a life of crime and depravity.


Author: Zane Hesting

I am an education student at Chadron State College in Nebraska. My interests include fly fishing, reading books, watching movies, hanging out with family, and exploring.

4 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?”

  1. This sounds interesting! I have All-American Boys by the same author checked out, and I’m really looking forward to reading it. This also makes me want to find out more about the author. What sort of life did he lead? Did his experiences contribute to his writing?


    1. Jason Reynolds says in his blog that one of his goals was to write “books that aren’t boring.” While most times I can feel bored at “some point” with a text, it was not the case with this one.


  2. Thanks for attaching the podcast, it is always interesting to hear an author’s inspiration for the books they have written. Many times the inspiration is something we all have experienced, hence the ability to touch a lot of people with creative expression.


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