Ain’t Burned All the Bright
Illustrated by Jason Griffin
Published January 11, 2022
About Ain’t Burned All the Bright
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.
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.
This is another book that totally blew my mind. The story is very simple, but even that is part of its power. The illustrations are so illuminating. I know the story is about oxygen, about breathing, about a flame catching, but that is also what reading this book feels like. It’s that perfect blend of a spark, oxygen, and fuel that creates a burst of flame.
I’ve had this book on my reading list since it came out. I noticed it recently on a Publisher’s Weekly list of best books of 2022, and decided it was time to just read it.
It’s the kind of book that you could read in an hour, less probably, but that you’ll want to take your time with instead. I found that as I read, I wanted to just sit with each illustration and let the words sink in.
I feel like I keep coming back to the fact that at its core, AIN’T BURNED UP THE BRIGHT is a simple story, yet it’s so much more. Maybe that’s what makes it so incredible.
Anyway, I highly recommend this book. I loved it, and I can’t think of anything else like it.
Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.
The artwork shows a Black family. The story is from the perspective of a Black boy.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
References to news stories. The words stop short of specifically talking about police violence, but it’s clear that some of the news stories the narrator refers to are those stories. Some of the artwork shows fire.
Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog.