76 pages 2 hours read

Jason Reynolds

As Brave As You

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2016

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Character Analysis


Genie, the book’s 11-year-old protagonist, spends a summer with his father’s parents after a long period of estrangement. Genie is sensitive, observant, and curious. He carries a notebook to write down questions about the world, questions that the adults around him tolerate or entertain with varying degrees of seriousness.

Genie is a traditional coming-of-age protagonist who grapples with such questions as adult identity, family heritage, and life experience and emerges with a more complex, complete understanding of the world. Genie embodies such coming-of-age themes as family values, adult fallibilities, community, and identity.

Genie’s sensitivity has both positive and negative consequences. He is unusually attuned to the emotional state of adults, and begins to understand and experience complex and at times conflicting emotions. However, he also has “worry issues” (38) and feels intensely guilty over mistakes he makes: “His first day at Grandma and Grandpop’s house, and he had already messed up. The first day. He just couldn’t believe it. He hated making mistakes. All he could think about was how he had to make it right” (96). Reynolds uses guilt as a cornerstone of the book, exploring how various generations of the Harris family experience and ultimately overcome feelings of guilt over problems that they inadvertently create.