"This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen. No one heard anything."
- Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
You see, everyone who would have noticed was busy--they were walking home from school. They were arguing, skateboarding, telling stories, and making plans. They were cracking jokes and asking hard questions, exchanging secret handshakes and hanging out with friends. They were far too busy to notice something like a school bus falling from the sky.
I don't always enjoy short stories (it can be so hard to lose yourself in them when they're only the length of a chapter!), but I loved Look Both Ways. Each of the ten stories are distinct and unique (in characters, plot, and writing style), but they overlap just the right amount, with each character firmly absorbed in their own story, yet touched or affected by those of others. The characters might be vastly different from each other in experience and situation, but they're all unforgettably relatable and real--I felt like I was reading about kids I could have classes with, or was reminded of my own experiences. The stories, one for each block that a character lives on, unfold with twists and realizations while maintaining a believable open-endedness which makes them even more powerful. I've had several of Jason Reynolds' books on my reading list for a while, and now I can't wait to read more of his books! I would highly recommend Look Both Ways to readers ages ten and up looking for a book with skillful writing, humor, loss, and hope, and a believable, diverse cast of middle schoolers searching for their place in the world.