76 pages 2 hours read

Jason Reynolds

As Brave As You

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2016

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Symbols & Motifs


Reynolds explores the intricacies of brotherhood through two sets of brothers: Genie and Ernie, and Genie’s father and Uncle Wood. Each of these pairs exemplifies protectiveness, loyalty, and common identity as well as the irritation and frustration that are often part of sibling relationships. Genie and Ernie, as adolescents, are still learning how to coexist peacefully, but Genie looks up to Ernie as an example of fearlessness, confidence, and loyalty. The boys learn from their grandfather that Wood also felt compelled to protect his younger brother from a school bully, just as Ernie uses his status as the older brother to protect and guide Genie. This is a powerful dynamic in the book because it leads to Ernie taking part in the shooting ritual even though he doesn’t want to—he mistakenly thinks that it’s the best way to model courage to his brother. Reynolds uses this motif to bring complexity and nuance to the family relationships in the book and to explore larger themes such as courage, loyalty, and family values.