When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds []

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Award winning author Jason Reynolds is a masterful storyteller. Through his book, When I Was the Greatest, Reynolds shows us something of the nuances of family life in an urban African American community and exposes the spaces where love, family, and community are strong. Ali’s family is not typical, but there is no typical family. Ali lives in Bed Stuy, New York with his mother, Doris and his sister, Jazz. Jazz is famous for giving nicknames and she gave Ali his name after Muhommad Ali. Jazz also named Ali’s best friends and neighbors Needles and Noodles. Ali grapples with the complexities of life in Bed Stuy and knows he needs to keep on track and stay out of trouble because his mother Doris makes that very clear. This book is so engaging and authentic it will hook even the most reluctant teen reader.

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