Powerful, thought-provoking, and heartfelt, this debut YA novel by author Autumn Allen is a gripping look at what it takes (and takes and takes) for two Black students to succeed in prestigious academic institutions in America.
In ALL YOU HAVE TO DO, two Black young men attend prestigious schools nearly thirty years apart, and yet both navigate similar forms of insidious racism.
In April 1968, in the wake of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, Kevin joins a protest that shuts down his Ivy League campus...
In September 1995, amidst controversy over the Million Man March, Gibran challenges the “See No Color” hypocrisy of his prestigious New England prep school...
As the two students, whose lives overlap in powerful ways, risk losing the opportunities their parents worked hard to provide, they move closer to discovering who they want to be instead of accepting as fact who society and family tell them they are.
About the Author
Autumn Allen teaches literature and writing workshops for young people and edits picture books as a senior editor at Barefoot Books. She teaches children’s literature at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and holds graduate degrees in education, children's literature and writing for children from Harvard and Simmons Universities. Her forthcoming picture books, Step On Board: Sculpting a Memorial to Harriet Tubman, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, and Answered Prayers, will be published by Knopf. All You Have to Do is her debut novel. Autumn grew up in Boston and lives in Massachusetts with her family. Visit her website at autumnallenbooks.com.
Praise for All You Have To Do By Autumn Allen:
“All You Have To Do is a tutorial in time. We don't simply travel through time here; we travel with time through the bending and breaking of power and tradition. Autumn Allen has created a book that counts its readers as its most important characters while examining how we fight for dignity in different, but very similar generations. Incredible art-making!” – Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir, winner of the Andrew Carnegie medal for Excellence in Nonfiction
“All You Had To Do beautifully immerses the reader in the stories of two young Black student activists and their shared personal struggles that transcend decades. It is a stunning debut novel.” – Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning, winner of the National Book Award
"Autumn Allen has offered a rare and refreshing glimpse into Black boyhood in elite schools on the precipice of two vital moments in American history. All You Have To Do is a profound and empathetic statement on the costs of striving for excellence against all odds. Allen is a writer to watch!" – Ibi Zoboi, author of American Street, a National Book Award Finalist
★ "Allen constructs a vivid narrative that balances both timelines seamlessly and pointedly highlights often overlooked history. The crisp, succinct prose and fully realized characters make this a shining example of how principled research in lock step with exceptional writing creates an unforgettable reading experience. An electric debut: a must-read for all." – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
★ ". . . Allen highlights two Black teens’ parallel struggles for racial justice, 27 years apart, in this powerful debut. Through Gibran and Kevin’s individual exploits of equality and accountability, fully fleshed-out characters, and skillfully cultivated narrative tension, Allen creates a layered debut that is timely and resonant." – Publisher's Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
★ “This intense debut novel connects two young Black men struggling for acceptance and equality. Allen expertly integrates historical civil rights figures and events into a character-driven narrative that communicates how it feels to be transformed by a powerful speech, to face violence, and to stand tall every day in the face of injustice and racism. She ends with a moment of triumphant unity in a struggle that continues.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“A compelling portrait of the intersectionality of race, class, and intergenerational change that features two Black young adults, Kevin and Gibran, living through two different time periods. An important addition to the canon of YA historical fiction and especially recommended for readers who are invested in the history of racism and the struggle for freedom.” – School Library Journal