I’ve had this book, Look Both Ways, on my bookshelf for the longest. I’ve been seeing it alot on teachergram (teachers on Instagram) and it’s from one of my favorite authors, Jason Reynolds. I’ve taught the first chapter for a plot lesson and I read the first chapter for first chapter Friday, which is when I read the first chapter of a book (to entice students to read it) on Fridays!
The book is not like a regular novel. It is full of short stories that coincide with each other. All with a group of middle school children and their journey home or at home. Of course they dive into why each do what they do and what drives them. Since the characters are middle school students, it’s a middle grade book.
So, just what did I think about this book? Read on to find out!
This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen. They were all too busy—Talking about boogers. Stealing pocket change. Skateboarding. Wiping out. Braving up. Executing complicated handshakes. Planning an escape. Making jokes. Lotioning up. Finding comfort.
But mostly, too busy walking home. Jason Reynolds conjures ten tales (one per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings, and brilliantly weaves them into one wickedly funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life. This book shows all the different directions a walk home can take.
It’s not bad. It’s really short (not even 200 pages) which is something that I appreciate for middle grade or reluctant readers. I feel like the first chapter “Water Booger Bears” is something that will hook young kids because it talks about boogers. Like, what 12 year old wouldn’t want to read about boogers? Some of my favorite stories were: Look Both (Both) Ways, The Low Cuts Strike Again, and Ookabooka Land.
I really appreciate how Reynolds tackles real issues for real kids. These are kids in the inner city. Kids with divorced parents or parents working two jobs. Parents who have cancer. Kids who’ve maybe lost a sibling or in foster care. Kids with illnesses like sickle cell. Kids who are in the LGBTQ+ community. Kids with PTSD. There is a story that some kid out there will identify with. He does a fantastic job at making kids feel seen and heard. Heck, on the back cover it poses the question: How You Gon’ Change The World?
Was it my favorite book of his? No but it’s pretty okay. I Didn’t hate it! I’d definitely have this in my classroom library.
I give this book 3.5/5 stars!
What book did you love when you were in middle school (junior high…depending on what its called where you’re from)? And by the way, how are you going to change the world?