Jason Reynolds is the author of a number of brilliant novels for tweens and teens, including Ghost and Long Way Down, to name just two. I have had the privilege of hearing him speak several times, and he is always a moving storyteller, but more to the point, he reveals himself to be both a deep thinker and a hard worker.
This new title is in a different category than his novels. It made a perfect gift for a recent graduate of my acquaintance. It is a long, poetic letter to everyone who has a dream. Reynolds gleans from his own experiences for some of the content, relating the internal burning to express oneself and the collaboration with friends who are also yearning to realize their dreams. He talks about starting on his journey as a little child, but he also tells the story of landing back at home in his mid-twenties to discover that his mother, who had retired from her 9-to-5 career, had found her dream of helping children and caring for the needy. So, you’re never too old to begin. He is a creative person, but he extends the net to others who want to be athletes or entrepreneurs. He describes the fear and doubt that creep in, keeping us from leaving a place of bland security, and tells us to “jump anyway.”
Reynolds was on an author panel once when he was asked that perennial question: “What advice do you have for aspiring writers?” His answer was simply, “Do the work.” He keeps to an incredibly disciplined schedule and is a living mission statement for children’s authors. When he writes an inspirational book like For Everyone, it is not to encourage young people to keep on believing that all good things will fall into their laps. No, it is to encourage them to do the work, feed the burn, and jump anyway.
This is a small, inspiring book for all ages and all walks of life, everyone who needs a match to relight that candle. It is for everyone.
Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not reflect those of my employer or anyone else.