When I Was the Greatest

When I Was the Greatest

By Jason Reynolds

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, 9781442459472, 231pp.

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head even if you re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen.
"A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing."
Nah, not his thing. Ali's got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there's a dude looking for trouble and, somehow, it's always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy's gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it's all small potatoes; it's not like anyone's getting hurt.
And then there's Needles. Needles is Noodles's brother. He's got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It's cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn t mean anything by it.
Yeah, it's cool until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be somewhere they never should've been where the people aren't so friendly, and even less forgiving.

About the Author
Jason Reynolds is crazy. About stories. After earning a BA in English from The University of Maryland, College Park, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where you can often find him walking the four blocks from the train to his apartment talking to himself. Well, not really talking to himself, but just repeating character names and plot lines he thought of on the train, over and over again, because he s afraid he ll forget it all before he gets home. Jason is the author of critically acclaimed "When I Was the Greatest", for which he was the recipient of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent; the Coretta Scott King Honor books "Boy in the Black Suit" and "All American Boys" (cowritten with Brendan Kiely); and "As Brave as You", his middle grade debut. You can find his ramblings at JasonWritesBooks.com.