book reviews

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

boy in the black suit

My Rating: 8/10

(Goodreads)

The Boy in the Black Suit is about seventeen year old Matthew Miller who is still mourning the death of his mother. In need of a job, he decides to start working for Mr. Ray, the man who works at the local funeral home. As the story continues, Matt builds relationships with various characters who have experienced their own version of loss. He soon meets Love (or Lovey) who shows an immense amount of strength in the face of such loss.

I didn’t know what to readily expect from this book. I made a commitment in the beginning of the year to read more diverse authors and this book was heavily recommended by John Green in one of the vlogbrother videos. While at my local library, I decided I would give it a gander.

One of the first things that I really liked about this story was the characters. The story is told by Matt through first person narration. His perspectives was very refreshing and funny at times despite some of the dark subjects touched upon at various points. There was also the character of Mr. Ray who was very affable and very familiar. All the other characters from Matt’s best friend, Chris, to Love were also really fun characters.

The main thing I took away from The Boy in the Black Suit is its representations of pain and loss. The story itself jumps through various funeral settings, showing how various people within the urban neighborhood confront the grief of losing a loved one. Though the book discusses sadness and all its associated emotions, it never wallows in it. It’s important to feel that sadness, to feel that pain, but it’s equally important to eventually move on from it because life is so much more than its bad moments. Even in the darkest of pits there is always a light waiting to warm you at the top if you take the steps to climb out of it.

I also commend the book for not centering the book on a romance. The relationship that develops between Matt and Love is cute but not really point of the story. Jason Reynolds makes this abundantly clear in the story’s structure since the possibility of romance wasn’t really introduced until halfway into it. The story is first and foremost Matt’s story. It also diverges from various other YA novels that try to make love the answer to the problems that the main character faces.

My only complaint is that I wanted more. The book was just under 300 pages and though I liked the ending, I could a used a bit more of it. Otherwise, it was very good and I highly recommend it.

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