Thursday - March 16, 2017 1:01 am

Author of "All American Boys," book on police brutality, racism, speaks in La Crosse today Featured

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Reynolds, who co-wrote award-winning
book will talk with La Crosse students Friday

A 16-year-old black boy is mistaken for having stole a bag of chips and is assaulted by a police officer.

Outrage ensues and students protest. 

A white classmate witnesses the event. He's also one of the officer's son's best friends. And therein lies his dilemma.

It's a story that's been a reality in different ways throughout the country and a story that Logan High School and Logan Middle School students are reading right now - a story called All American Boys. It's a book that's won 26 awards, written by two authors: Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. 

At 6 p.m. today, Reynolds will be at the La Crosse Public Library to talk about that book, others he's written and his experiences. He'll be at various La Crosse schools Friday.

Reynolds writes from the perspective of that young black boy in the book, while Kiely writes from the white boy who witnessed the assault.

The book has drawn criticism with some in the La Crosse Police Dept. but, perhaps, Reynolds can shed some light on why it's a book that is precisely written for students.

He said the book was inspired by the events that happened in Ferguson, Mo.

"I realize that these conversations were totally divorcing themselves from young people," Reynolds said. "We want to create a tool for young people to enter into that conversation in a healthy and safe way."

Reynolds also grew up in an environment similar to that of the book.

"We lived in a neighborhood where we saw those things all the time," he said. "It becomes a part of your skin, right? And then it shows itself at random times and you can't figure out why your behavior is the way it is. 

"So for me, it was nice to really, finally, work through some of the psychological injury."

As Reynolds tours the country talking about the book and his experiences, he sees the payoff.

"There was a young man that stood up and said, 'Look, I'm 17 years old and have never read a book, until I read this book,'" Reynolds said. "And that's a special thing. We get that all the time."

Seating at the library is limited and people are encouraged to get there at 5:30 p.m. when doors will open.

WIZM staff

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