A stunning visual autobiography of two crazy-talented besties, bestselling and award-winning author Jason Reynolds and painter Jason Griffin, who could never be who they are singularly if they weren’t who they were together.
Once upon a time in America, there were two Jasons. Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin. One a poet. One an artist. One Black. One white. Two voices. One journey in mind: to move to New York, the city of dreams, to make their own dreams come true. Willing to have a life not un-hard, so long as it wasn’t unhappy. Willing to let the city swallow them whole, so long as it gives them their chance. They had each other. “What if painting was a sin, and the poetry became taboo. And no one ever clapped for me again. My question is, would you?”
They clapped. Oh, they clapped. And aren’t we glad?
Two best friends and previous collaborators' (Ain't Burned All the Bright) diary-style accounting of their years spent living together in New York City is a moving, poetic, and visually rich homage to friendship, perseverance, and growth. "Regular guys. Survivors. Friends. Brothers"—acclaimed author Reynolds and renowned artist Griffin are all those things and more. Moving from Maryland to N.Y.C. in the early 2000s, the college roommates turned housemates work together to pursue their respective aspirations. Reynolds's rhythmic poems speak to the duo's adjustment to life in a new city ("a painful paradise for the unpretty"), the personal and professional sacrifices made to follow their dreams to survive by creating art ("My mom got sick.... I never should've left home"), and the challenges of expressing emotion and vulnerability ("Men don't cry/or write poetry/or paint"). Griffin's multimedia art adds a vibrant parallel perspective to Reynolds's grounding poems. Visually, the text, formatted in myriad fonts, colors, and orientations, and the illustrations, which include ink sketches, vibrantly hued watercolors, and bold collages, astutely encompasses the duo's varying struggles over the years. This compact, inspirational volume stands as a testament to the value of artistic expression and the power of friendship in self-discovery. Ages 12–up. Agents: (for Reynolds) Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties; (for Griffin) Lydia Wills, Paradigm.