The Boy in the Black Suit

The Boy in the Black Suit
Written by Jason Reynolds

Soon after his mother’s death, Matt takes a job at a funeral home in his tough Brooklyn neighborhood and, while attending and assisting with funerals, begins to accept her death and his responsibilities as a man.

Primary Source Pairing:
Matt, while applying for a job at a local fast food place, runs into the family friend Mr. Ray who owns a local funeral home ands who offers Matt a job at the funeral home instead. This begins Matt’s journey of grieving his recently deceased mom and figuring out what his life looks like in the reality of her absence. For this primary source pairing, use a Brooklyn map to consider the setting of the story and how it plays a part in Matt’s growth as a character.

There are many additional images that could be paired with this story: images of a funeral home and flower arrangements, a black suit to represent Matt’s daily outfit, a cancer pamphlet like the ones Mr. Ray passes out to his friends and acquaintances, a team photo of the 1970 New York Knicks, a chocolate chip cookie recipe, or a picture of a sempervivum succulent to symbolize the relationship between Matt and Lovey.

Questions for Discussion:

  • Describe what you see.
  • What do you notice first?
  • What size and shape is the map?
  • What graphical elements do you see?
  • What on the map looks strange or unfamiliar?
  • Describe anything that looks like it does not belong on a map.
  • What place or places does the map show?
  • What words do you see?
  • How does the setting of Brooklyn influence the story of Matt in The Boy in the Black Suit?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Brooklyn map: NYC Tourist