Author: Jason Reynolds
Provided Synopsis: Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.
Review: I think this book has the ability to mean a lot to many people. For one, it answers the call within YA Fiction for stories with diverse characters: Matthew Miller is an African-American teenage-boy living in Brooklyn, NY. His narrative voice is instantly endearing, and most importantly he is a face that is not often given a voice within fiction, or the context of our society as it is. I enjoyed traveling on his journey and listening to his take on the things occurring around him.
At the beginning of The Boy in the Black Suit, Matt is returning to high school after a few weeks off following the death of his mother. He eventually comes to work at the funeral home owned by a family friend named Mr. Ray, where he makes it a habit to sit in on the funerals of those he must attend for work. Rather than be morbidly obsessed with death, Matt is obsessed with viewing loss in the expression of others, for it satisfies his need to not feel alone in what he is still coming to terms with. A lot of poignant things were said about loss and grief during these reflective times, and I truly believe these sections of the story will speak to many who are currently dealing with or who have dealt with the death of a loved one.
In addition, the story includes a budding romance between Matt and a girl he meets at a funeral named, Lovey. While I appreciated her ability to get Matt to think beyond his loss to hope and the future, I was simultaneously not impressed with the air of coincidence and fate that hung over them — perhaps because this book is so small I was simply not given enough time with them to appreciate the development of feeling. For that matter, I really do wish this story could have been longer because I feel as if there is still so much to explore with how Matt’s father will continue on, along with lessons that could be learned from Mr. Ray