When I Was the Greatest (Reprint)

Jason Reynolds (Author) Michael Frost (Photographer)


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 that Publishers Weekly calls "a funny and rewarding read" 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.

Product Details

$10.99  $10.11
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publish Date
August 18, 2015
5.56 X 0.75 X 8.25 inches | 0.5 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

A poet
An artist

One black
One white

Two voices
One journey

Jason Reynolds & Jason Griffin are superheroes.

Born in 1943 in drab East London, Michael went to sea with P&O at 16 to see the world and for seven years saw life, shipping and the world profoundly change. His sea-going experience was multi-faceted, world-encompassing and intellectually stimulating.


* "Reynolds...addresses much more--race and class divisions in New York, taking ownership of one's actions, and standing up for what's right--without ever sounding preachy. Reynolds also upends tired stereotypes...while leaving in enough sass and grit to keep the story believable. Snappy descriptions...and a hard-won ending round out a funny and rewarding read." -Publishers Weekly, starred review
*"Reynolds's debut oozes with authenticity... The main and secondary characters are well developed; their sweetness, sassiness, and even stupidity are endearing and relatable....Reynolds is an author to watch." - School Library Journal, Starred Review