AIN’T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT BY JASON REYNOLDS ART WORK BY JASON GRIFFIN
Ain’t Burned All The Bright is the collaboration of author Jason Reynolds and artist Jason Griffin. Set in the year 2020, during lockdown, the story consists of three sections, three breaths. The narrator is a young adult trying to make sense of lockdown, what is means to be black in America right now, and how both contribute to his lack of oxygen. The reader can feel the suffocation as he details his father’s battle with COVID quarantine, his mother’s paralyzed consumption of the news and his siblings’ distracted avoidance of all issues. He becomes every reader as he struggles to find oxygen and desperately searches for air, both literally and figuratively. The hope that comes when he does find that breathe is contagious and provides the promise that society can find the strength to move forward, make changes, and finally breath.
Reynold’s lyrical ability to play with words, combined with Griffin’s art, pair together to express the complicated emotions of our narrator, leaving the story, and the ideas expressed within, resonating with many young adults long after closing the book.
The beauty of this piece does not end with the rejuvenating breath. After the story, this book includes a little gem of a conversation between the two collaborators. In a final section titled, “is anyone still here?” Reynolds and Griffin share the journey of creating this piece of work together. This interview style closure is one that reveals the trust between the two creators, their trust in the writing process itself, and offers up some great advice for student writers and artists.