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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2014 Listening Library; 2014 Jason Reynolds

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding!!!

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds, narrated by JB Adkins is absolutely fantastic! I highly recommend it to...well, everyone! In fact, I can't think of anyone I wouldn't recommend it to. It's so good! I teach high school in an urban setting, so I am often drawn to books that either remind me of my students in some way, or present an opportunity for me to learn more about the lives of my students. Not to mention, Jason Reynolds is a celebrity in our classroom! We LOVE his work! He is a brilliant author who has the amazing ability of grabbing your attention right from the start and not letting go! Though the situations may not always be pleasant (because, face it, real life isn't always pleasant), the themes and messages that come across stick with you long after the last page.


This audiobook about family, brotherhood, loyalty, sacrifice, doing what's right,...I could go on and on!!....is flawlessly narrated. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to JB Adkins. I couldn't imagine a more perfect voice for this book! The pace, tone, volume, and inflection were right on. Outstanding job!


Overall, I give this audiobook a well-deserved 5/5 stars! I feel listening to it was even better than reading it, which is also awesome. If you haven't read or listened to any books by Jason Reynolds, you are missing out! Do yourself a favor and get one, any of them. They are all engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking. On that note, I'm off to listen to his new release, Long Way Down, which I'm positive is going to be just as great as this one!!


Thank you for reading my review. I hope it was helpful. :-)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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loved it

good story fantastic memorable interesting nice amazing cool terrific sad and overwhelming and favorite story

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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I love this book

On the recommendation of a friend, I bought this book without expecting that much, since contemporary fiction isn't really my thing. this absolutely blew me away. This raw and gritty coming of age story was so moving I'm still digesting it days later. Easily the best book I've read this yeat.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Great audio, book not Reynolds' best<br />

The audio was fantastic. The book is good but a little lacking in plot, especially compared to the greatness of Reynold's other books.