All American Boys Summary & Study Guide

Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds
This Study Guide consists of approximately 50 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of All American Boys.
This section contains 1,127 words
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All American Boys Summary & Study Guide Description

All American Boys Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on All American Boys by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Reynolds, Jason and Kiely, Brendan. All American Boys. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015.

This novel of racial injustice centres around two main characters: Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins. These two teenage boys are the narrators of the novel, and swap back and forth to provide two sides of this multi-dimensional story. The novel starts out on a normal Friday afternoon, and the kids at Springfield Central high school look forward to the weekend festivities. Rashad along with his close friends English, Shannon and Carlos assemble to create their plan for the party that evening. After organizing themselves, the group splits, and Rashad makes his way home by bus.

The traffic was bad that day, so Rashad decides to hop off the bus and grab a snack from Jerry's corner store. He walks in and sees a police officer standing guard. It did not really faze him, since Jerry's had a lot of thieves and underage kids trying to get alcohol. Rashad makes his way to the chip aisle, but he realizes that he forgot to text his brother Spoony that he is on his way over, since he was going to drive him to the party. Rashad feels his pockets, and realizes that he left his phone in the pocket of his ROTC uniform. So he bends over, unzips his duffel bag, and at that moment a woman accidentally backs into him and falls over. This causes a loud noise, and the officer rushes over to accuse Rashad of stealing. Rashad tries to tell the officer it was a misunderstanding, and reaches for his bag to get the money he had for the chips. Before he realizes what is happening, the officer grabs him, yelling at him to not resist. Although Rashad complies, the officer continues to pummel him outside the store until he goes unconscious.

Meanwhile, Quinn and his buddies, Guzzo and Dwyer, are getting ready for the same party. The three of them are on the basketball team, and this would be the last party of the year- the season was starting soon, so this weekend had to be a good one. The group assembles in an alleyway outside of Jerry's convenience, and waits for someone who will buy them alcohol, since they are underage. However, as Quinn approaches someone, he sees a police officer stumble out of Jerry's and throw a black teenager towards the pavement. The officer starts punching the defenceless kid, and Quinn can barely stand to watch. A moment later, he realizes he knows the officer- it is Paul Galluzzo, his best friend Guzzo's brother.

The next day Rashad wakes up in a hospital bed, and finds that he is under arrest for attempted robbery, resisting arrest, and public nuisance. His mother and father are there together but they have very different reactions. His mother is concerned, and asks how he is feeling. His dad is not so sympathetic, however, and begins rifling off questions to Rashad- asking why he was stealing, why he resisted arrest, and if his pants were sagging when it happened. Rashad is discouraged, but then his brother Spoony shows up. He has seen this situation before with his friends, he knows that Rashad would never steal, and this was simply another instance of police brutality and prejudice. Spoony vows that this will not be swept under the rug.

After a few days, the story surrounding Rashad's arrest starts to garner some attention with the media. Rashad finds out that Spoony had found a video of the event and sent it to the news outlets to bring awareness to the issue.

Meanwhile, Quinn continues to struggle with the images that he saw a few days earlier, and on that Sunday he is invited to the Galluzzo's house for a BBQ. Quinn did not know if Paul had seen him outside Jerry's on Friday, but there was a clear tension between the two of them. The family threw the BBQ to try to take Paul's mind off the incident, but when the football game is interrupted by a local news outlet talking about the brutal arrest conducted by Paul, it is clear this issue would not be forgotten about. After Paul roughs up Quinn during a basketball game in the driveway, Quinn storms off feeling no sense of remorse for Paul's situation.

On Tuesday, things begin to blow up once again. Out in front of Springfield Central high school, there is a large graffiti tag that reads, RASHAD IS ABSENT AGAIN TODAY. The tag eventually goes viral on social media, and all the attention leads Spoony and his girlfriend Berry to organize a protest to bring awareness to the prevalence of police brutality towards unarmed black people.

One morning, after nothing but silence, Rashad's father shows up to the hospital to tell Rashad a story of when he was a police officer. The story is almost identical to the situation at Jerry's, and he says that he quit the force because he felt himself developing a criminal profile that closely resembled his boys. He tries to convey that not all cops are bad, and sometimes the wrong decision is made under pressure.

Throughout the novel, Quinn undergoes a mental battle, trying to decide who to support: his close friend, or a boy he had never met. He eventually realizes that he needs to stand up for what he believes in order to spark change, and just because he is white does not mean this is not his battle to fight. On the day of the march, despite threats from his basketball coach, he takes a white t-shirt and writes "I'M MARCHING" on the front, and "ARE YOU?" on the back (252).

Rashad gets out of the hospital in time for the march, and the plans are set; it will start at Jerry's and go all the way to the police station. Dressed in all-black, Rashad takes off the bandages on his face so his wounds are visible. When he and his family arrive at Jerry's, there are already hundreds of people there, and together, black and white, the protesters walk in support of reform. On the route, in front of one of the police stations, they see Rashad's father, who despite being silent about the situation, decides to join the march. When the march arrives at the police station, the protesters do a die-in and lay down on the ground so that the officers cannot hurt them. Rashad lays down on the concrete, tears flowing, looking up into the flashing lights of cop cars; he thinks about how lucky he was to have survived, when there were so many others who had not.

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