Look Both Ways becomes an inspirational national book awards finalist



Book Cover for “Look Both Ways”, featuring characters depicted from the stories.

Ivy Howard, Staff Writer

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds introduces a powerful meaning and inspirational story featuring unique characters and their different perspectives as they face different situations. This National Book Awards Finalist deserves this title for its interesting concept and different directions based off of the ten stories included Even though Reynolds had the opportunity to get the title, I would still say this book is mediocre. There were only quite a few moments in the book I happened to enjoy and the rest didn’t grab my attention as much when reading the novel.

The novel focuses on the neighborhood the ten blocks are divided into. The ten stories featured mainly consist of characters embarking on different adventures and what they experience during it. Some characters find friends, discover new ideas, and learn things as they progress throughout their own stories.

The first story introduced a friendship between two best friends and a discussion about boogers. You would think that being the first story it would immediately hook the readers, but to my surprise, this first story wasn’t as interesting as I thought it would be. The main issue with it is that it has an overused concept of a friendship. Friendship isn’t normally a problem for novels, but knowing there is so many other ideas that could grasp the reader’s’ attention, it just wasn’t a very eye-catching and creative beginning, which was disappointing.

The rest of the stories throughout the novel, however, certainly caught my attention and kept me reading. After the first story, the few following shared different concepts. Reynolds continued to incorporate familiar themes, such as friendships, but added twists to the stories. For example, one of the stories intrigues you by bringing you on an adventure throughout a part of the neighborhood following a small group of friends stealing pocket change, buying items, and selling for more.

I felt the characters throughout this story were slightly underdeveloped, however it did not seem to be a big issue as it seemed intentional, as if the author wanted me to question more about their backgrounds. In addition to that, the author had used a variety of traits for his characters, which kept the story entertaining. I liked the idea of Reynolds keeping some characters likeable and unlikeable, as it made these characters all unique in their own way because the traits contrasted with the stories.

The variety of concepts introduced in the story were probably the main reason why I decided to continue reading the book. Some of these concepts were amusing and immature, others were serious and even solemn.

Overall, I would recommend this book, specifically toward any tween interested in stories following school and home. Even though the novel had some faulty parts here and there, it demonstrated how kids of one unique neighborhood are all different and they deal with their own issues and experiences in dissimilar ways. Look Both Ways explains that despite appearing as normal neighborhood kids, they actually go through a rollercoaster of emotions and events in which change their worlds.