CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland author Justin A. Reynolds’s next adventurous young adult novel, “It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit,” is full of twists and turns for young readers.
The 300-page book follows Eddie Gordon Holloway as he avoids doing his laundry at home. Because of that, Eddie finds himself wearing a bathing suit when a mysterious event happens in his neighborhood: his family, and other kids’ families, suddenly disappear. The group of children then has to figure out how to solve the mystery.
“Bathing Suit” arrives on Tuesday, April 5, through Scholastic Press.
The book follows several other projects by Reynolds. He previously wrote two books (2019′s “The Opposite of Always” and 2020′s “Early Departures”) and penned Marvel’s 2021 graphic novel, “Miles Morales: Shock Waves.”
As with his other work, Reynolds found inspiration for “It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit” from the media he grew up with.
“It harkens back to a time when I was a kid and we saw all those movies – more so than books – that vein of ‘Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead’ or ‘Adventures in Babysitting,’ all those kinds of movies where a group of kids from the neighborhood find themselves thrust together under highly unusual circumstances, and there’s usually some major problem-solving involved,” Reynolds said.
Though the story relates to movies, Reynolds said he didn’t watch too much TV as a kid growing up in Lorain County. His mother of him, a librarian and substitute teacher, instilled a love of reading in Reynolds and his sister of him. They would often spend time at their local library, renting out dozens of books at a time.
A love of reading led to a love of writing, when Reynolds began telling his own stories and crafting handmade books out of his mother’s leftover sewing supplies.
His dream was to have one day have his books end up at the local libraries he spent so much time in.
“I’d always look at the shelf where ‘REY’ was and think, ‘That’s where my book will be one day,’” Reynolds said.
Reynolds went to school in Lorain County, and after going to a few different colleges, got a degree in creative writing and English literature from Cleveland State University. He also got a nursing degree from Lorain County Community College.
Reynolds worked a variety of careers before finding opportunities to write, including working as a registered nurse, a security guard and as a maintenance worker in a steel mill.
All the while, I have kept writing.
“They weren’t the most glamorous jobs. I was just determined to make it on my own, and when I finally got it, I wanted to know that I deserved it,” Reynolds said. “I realized there are so many people that, while they may not be able to make this their thing, their 9-5 job, when it’s something that brings you the kind of joy that writing and reading brings me, you just do it. ”
Reynolds often pitched his work to agents, and finally landed one through a Twitter challenge in 2016. He had just finished the manuscript for “The Opposite of Always,” a novel about a character going back in time to try to save a person he loves and failing repeatedly.
The book was inspired by the deaths of a friend and an aunt, Reynolds said, along with the unexpected loss of a patient he was caring for as a registered nurse.
“That story was my way of dealing with those things,” Reynolds said, “and just trying to figure out some satisfying answers to those questions: ‘Why are we here? What’s the purpose of life? Why do terrible, bad things happen to so many great people?’”
“Early Departures” was built on the world of “The Opposite of Always,” telling a separate story about two friends in a futuristic world that can bring the dead back to life for just over two weeks before they die again, permanently.
Through his agent, Reynolds was then given the opportunity to write “Miles Morales Shockwaves.” He also wrote a sequel that’s due out in September or October, around the same time as the new “Spider-Verse” movie. Plus, Reynolds is working on a co-written book with Caron Butler, an assistant coach for the Miami Heat and a former NBA player.
It’s been a busy few years for the Tremont-based writer, with three books and a graphic novel released, and several more in the pipeline.
Though the projects vary, a common thread in all of Reynolds’ work is an aspect of representation. He always prominently features Black characters and people of color in his stories about him.
“I want everyone to feel like they have a place in the world, not just the sidekick or the comic relief, or a secondary character just to support the main character,” Reynolds said. “I wanted to show examples of kids of color who are thriving, who have supportive communities and families. The more we reflect that here, until it becomes a normal thing we don’t have to talk about, the better the world will be. The better the community will be, right here in Cleveland.”
Reynolds will celebrate the release of “It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit” with an event at Dobama Theater at 7 pm on April 5, in conversation with Terri Libenson. Find more information about the release party at its Facebook event.
Reynolds said the book is available for order anywhere, and recommended shopping at both Mac’s Backs and Loganberry Books.
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