Ain’t Burned All the Bright is the Breath You Need to Take (Read)

Posted January 31, 2022 by Richetta in #ownvoices, Book Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

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I received this book for free from From the publisher at the 2021 ALAN Workshop & Libro.Fm ALC Educator Program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Ain’t Burned All the Bright is the Breath You Need to Take (Read)Ain't Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds
Narrator: Jason Reynolds, Nile Bullock, Tatum Marylin Hall
Length: 37 minutes
Illustrator: Jason Griffin
Published by Simon and Schuster on January 11, 2022
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Family / Parents, Young Adult Fiction / People & Places / United States / African American & Black, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Prejudice & Racism
Pages: 384
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: From the publisher at the 2021 ALAN Workshop & Libro.Fm ALC Educator Program
Buy on AmazonBuy on Bookshop

Prepare yourself for something unlike anything: A smash-up of art and text for teens that viscerally captures what it is to be Black. In America. Right Now. Written by #1 New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jason Reynolds.

Jason Reynolds and his best bud, Jason Griffin had a mind-meld. And they decided to tackle it, in one fell swoop, in about ten sentences, and 300 pages of art, this piece, this contemplation-manifesto-fierce-vulnerable-gorgeous-terrifying-WhatIsWrongWithHumans-hope-filled-hopeful-searing-Eye-Poppingly-Illustrated-tender-heartbreaking-how-The-HECK-did-They-Come-UP-with-This project about oxygen. And all of the symbolism attached to that word, especially NOW.

And so for anyone who didn’t really know what it means to not be able to breathe, REALLY breathe, for generations, now you know. And those who already do, you’ll be nodding yep yep, that is exactly how it is.

Also by this author: There Was a Party for Langston

Book Review

Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds with artwork by Jason Griffin was an unexpected surprise. Now I’m talking about Jason Reynolds, so when I say surprise, I am talking about something on another level. I will give any book by Reynolds an automatic read. Approaching this book, I had no idea what it was about, but from the title and cover I assumed it was a novel-in-verse. I was wrong, but in a good way.

This book was amazing and like a balm (or maybe I should say oxygen) to the soul during a time when everyone is struggling in one way or another. Now, I want you to sit down. Are you ready for this?

Ain’t Burned All the Bright is three long sentences. There is no punctuation and the sentences are run-ons. And every single part of this book from the words to the art is brilliant and timely.

Now, I probably/hopefully have your attention. So keep walking with me. The sentences are representative of three long breaths.

I listened to the StacksPod podcast episode with Jason Reynolds and he explained his inspiration like this.

  1. Everything in 2020 attacked the respiratory system. COVID-19. Protests for George Floyd.
  2. The idea of an oxygen mask. We all needed one – some of us metaphorically and some of us literally. But what was our idea of an oxygen mask?
  3. What you do in a panic attack. You are always told three deep breaths. Which ties everything back to breathing and surviving during the last few years.

Ain’t Burned All the Bright is categorized as young adult, but I think both teens and adults should read this book. This book just made sit, think and…breathe. I think, because we are still going through this pandemic, it’s a challenge for us to just stop, reflect and remember to breathe during a time when it is so difficult to keep doing so.

Also check out the audiobook. You will get to hear Ain’t Burned All the Bright read by Jason Reynolds and then re-read with a group of actors. You also get a bonus conversation between the best friends, Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin.

So I hope you check out this book. I hope you breathe. I hope you peeped what I did with the power of three during this review.


I came for… Jason Reynolds

I stayed for… all three breaths because I need to take a deep one myself.

Hot Cocoa Moments: Finding out the motivation behind the book

Would I Read it Again: Yes

Educator Recommendations: If you want to address SEL, then use this book in your classroom. We all need room to process the ongoing events of the past two years. Have students write their own three sentences about how they feel about the past two years. Let them run free of punctuation and grammar rules. Let them breathe with their writing! A concept that is often shunned for the more responsible 5-paragraph essay because we have to prepare our students… but that is the point of writing with no rules in this instance. None of us was prepared for the world we are living in right now. So just reflect and react in writing or art or both!

Learn More

Want to learn more about Jason Reynolds other new book, Stuntboy, In the Meantime that recently was published? Check out my commentary on the audiobook. It was awesome!!! My kids ask for it everytime they get in the car. Friday Night Highlights: After School Audiobooks

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