Look Both Ways and Tell Your Story

By Jeff B. RSS Thu, July 2, 2020

You have a story to tell. Now more than ever, in these uncertain times, people long to be heard, they are speaking up and speaking out.

Author Jason Reynolds' award-recognized and highly-praised Look Both Ways (available in ebook and audiobook formats) takes a look at 10 young people, in 10 chapters, all of whom go to the same school and live in the same neighborhood; all of whom have unique lives and situations while giving us a look at their thoughts, worries, and plans.

To be sure, there are connections among some of the stories: places, people, incidents – and a mysterious, falling, flying school bus (don’t ask; just read the book). But each story has its own center, and we learn a great deal about each character in just a few lines. Ms. Post the crossing guard helps everyone across the street while her son looks on from his spot by the stop sign; Ms. CeeCee sells penny candy from her house.

The voices and humanity of urban teens is on full display:

  • BFFs T.J. and Jasmine find their long friendship getting them through parental separation, illness, and foster care.
  • A teen with signs of OCD meets a street musician who changes her outlook.
  • Two ardent gamers are caught up in the confusion of sexual questioning.
  • There's an odd couple of friends whose difference in size is no barrier to their bond.
  • A teen with a fear of dogs devises an elaborate plan to get past his neighbor's new pet.
  • The class clown tries to find a way to make her overworked mother laugh.
  • Three boys work to make their friend presentable enough to tell a classmate that he likes her.

All these stories weave in and out of each other with humor, feeling, and the heroic struggle to grow up… and that odd, airborne school bus.

Now that we are cautiously coming out of quarantine, stepping back into community and neighborhood life—if you look both ways—who do you see and what do you hear? Who have you spoken to recently in your neighborhood? What have they shared with you, what have you shared with them?

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