The Boy in the Black Suit
Booklist Reviews 2015 February #1
His mother recently dead from breast cancer, 17-year-old Matt feels his life is backwards and that he has become invisible at school. Then, ironically, he secures a work-study job at the local funeral home, owned by Mr. Ray, a respected fixture in their Bed-Stuy neighborhood, and discovers, to his surprise, that he enjoys attending funerals. "Somehow," he thinks, "it made me feel better knowing my pain isn't only mine." It is at a funeral that he meets a beautiful girl with the improbable name of Lovey and feels an instant attraction. The two become friends and gradually their friendship, rooted in trust, becomes something deeper that may redeem both of them from their losses and loneliness. Though it gets off to a slightly slow start, Reynolds' second novel quickly becomes a superb, character-driven story. His protagonist Matt is a wonderfully sympathetic, multidimensional character whose voice is a perfect match for the material and whose relationships with Lovey and Mr. Ray—also a fascinating character—are beautifully realized. This quiet story is clearly a winner. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2015 Fall
High-school senior Matt has a job at Mr. Ray's funeral home, but he's also in mourning, for his mother who died and his long-on-the-wagon father who's returned to drink. While all this sounds like heavy problem-novel territory, it isn't. Reynolds writes about urban African American kids in a warm and empathetic way that the late Walter Dean Myers would have applauded.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2015 #2
High-school senior Matt wears a black suit because he has a job at Mr. Ray's funeral home (setting up chairs and food for services), but also -- metaphorically -- because he himself is in mourning, for the mother who died just before the book begins and the long-on-the-wagon father who has returned to drink. Although his work responsibilities end when the funerals begin, Matt finds himself sticking around to find "the person hurting the most," hoping that his or her expression of grief will perhaps help him deal with his own. While all this sounds like heavy problem-novel territory, it isn't. Matt is a good kid with a good best friend, Chris; their Bed-Stuy neighborhood is gritty but also a place of true community. There's even a sweet romance between Matt and a girl he meets at her grandmother's funeral. With When I Was the Greatest (rev. 1/14) and now this book, Reynolds writes about urban African American kids in a way, warm and empathetic, that the late Walter Dean Myers would have applauded. roger sutto Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.
PW Reviews 2014 November #1
When high school senior Matt realizes that working at the local chicken joint might mean cleaning up vomit, he reluctantly accepts a job at the neighborhood funeral parlor—the same one where his mother's funeral was just held. To Matt's surprise, he finds relief in watching funerals and seeing how mourners handle their grief, and he begins to grow closer to the funeral home's owner, a local character. As he did in When I Was the Greatest, Reynolds portrays Brooklyn's largely African-American Bed-Stuy neighborhood convincingly; Matt and his family are lower middle-class, as are their neighbors, but gangs and violence are a presence, as well. Coincidences and plot twists (including a car accident that conveniently helps Matt's grieving father address his drinking problem) detract from the impact of the story as it develops. Romantic interest Lovey, a very appealing girl Matt meets at her grandmother's funeral, doesn't come on the scene until halfway through the book, and the wait feels long. An affecting story of a teenager's path through pain, but one whose faults offset its strengths. Ages 12–up. Agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Jan.)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC