Dignity Is Not

Submitted By:
Linda Jean-Mary, Mary McDowell Friends School, Brooklyn, New York

Miles Morales Suspended by Jason Reynolds
Simon & Schuster, May 7, 2023

In the latest installment of the Miles Morales’ Spider-Man series, New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds does not shy away from tackling topics that landed some of his previous works on the banned books list. In his latest novel, Suspended, Reynolds examines the school-to-prison pipeline and revisionist history experienced through the eyes of our protagonist, Miles, an Afro-Latino high schooler who just happens to be a superhero. Reynolds masterfully weaves together the challenges of this not-so-cool student who doesn't quite fit in at his private school, struggles with family dynamics, and still has to fight crime. “In a school like Brooklyn Visions Academy, [broken] desks are easily replaceable. Dignity is not.” Reynolds' writing is sharp, engaging and filled with imagery, symbolism and metaphors, with a mix of poetry and prose in every chapter. As the poem “History Class” asks, “You ever had a teacher who taught you like they were teaching you a lesson?” In Suspended, Reynolds challenges biased teachings in the classroom as Miles (aka Spider-Man) fights against an evil villain who tries to erase history. Teachers should consider this quick read for middle schoolers as a way to foster discussion about race, identity, and institutional bias.