49 pages 1 hour read

Jason Reynolds

The Boy in the Black Suit

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2015

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Themes

Recognizing and Acknowledging the Beauty in Life

A strong theme of recognizing, noting, and appreciating the beauty of life runs throughout The Boy in the Black Suit. Matt’s central conflict, in fact, surrounds the challenge to regain a positive outlook and sound footing with peers, neighbors, and himself after the loss of his mother. His bitterness is subtle and under the surface, but it's evident in his remarks about flowers others gave his mother in her last days: “I stared at the flowers and thought about just trashing them since they’d be dead by the morning anyway. Pointless” (37). He indicates that life and beauty are pointless because they are finite.

Matt's conflict increases at his mother’s funeral in a vocal and public way, as he indicates with words he could say to Chris but does not: “I’m sorry you weren’t there for me, but it doesn’t matter, because even if you were, you wouldn’t be able to feel what I feel. Nobody can. Even the preacher said so” (3). This statement evokes a tone of isolation and loneliness, compounded by his father’s accident and subsequent months-long absence, leaving Matt to flounder his way alone through the initial stages of grief.

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