Matt Miller, a senior in high school, is dealing with the recent death of his mom to cancer. Mr. Ray, Matt’s neighbor, offers him a job at the funeral home. He is hesitant to take it but can’t pass up the good paycheck. So, Matt becomes the boy in the black suit because he starts wearing it every day. In a way it brings Matt comfort to watch the funerals. “I liked watching other people deal with the loss of someone, not because I enjoyed seeing them in pain, but because, somehow, it made me feel better knowing that my pain isn’t only mine.”
When he least expects it, Matt meets Lovey. She has been through much more than he has and hopes he can learn from her how to cope with the grief. Will Matt be able to deal with his pain and open himself up to a new relationship?
During a webinar I attended at the beginning of 2021, author Jason Reynolds said that The Boy in the Black Suit was his best writing to date. I agree, the writing is strong. The characters are relatable, and the emotion throughout the book palpable. The reader isn’t just told Matt is sad, there are specific things he does that show us. For example, he doesn’t want to open the cookbook his Mom made for him (so he goes to the bodega for a sandwich). I would recommend this book for anybody (especially teens) who are experiencing grief. It may be the thing that helps you describe/define your own journey through heartache.