Jason Reynolds was already a published author when he skyrocketed to YA fame with his 2014 novel When I Was the Greatest. With 2015’s The Boy in the Black Suit, he once again takes a sensitive, realistic, and powerful look at the life of a troubled teenage boy in an urban setting. Give this book to any teens you know who could appreciate a realistic fiction story about death, grief, identity, families, and friendship.
After Matt’s mother passed away, his life went in some unexpected directions. Unfortunately, most of those directions were bad. Many of the kids and teachers at his school stopped talking to him or avoided him, almost like his mother’s cancer was contagious. Then his father started drinking again, and life at home got even worse. Matt felt like he was more alone than he’d ever been before.
Then Matt got a new job to help pay the bills, and that job saved his life. Which is a little weird, because his new job was all about death. You see, Matt’s new job was working at a funeral parlor, helping people who had just lost loved ones of their own. He started wearing a black suit every day to school, and that got him even more weird looks than before. But even though Matt had been feeling so depressed because of his mom, his dad, and his friends, working at the funeral parlor and attending the funerals of strangers starts to reopen his heart in ways he never expected.