“Shout” Laurie Halse Anderson

Rated 5 stars ***** Viking (Penguin Random House). 2019. 291 p. (Includes Resources on Sexual Violence and Mental Health for readers.)

ShoutIn free verse, Laurie Halse Anderson tells her story of constantly having to move due to her father’s job, of being poor, of having to attend many different schools, and of being raped by someone she considered a friend at the young age of 13. After her assault Anderson details the many coping mechanisms she used to try to cover the raging anger she now felt, including getting high, cutting classes, and getting drunk. It was only after spending 13 months in Denmark as an exchange student, during her senior year of high school, that Laurie finally began to feel some of the scar tissue within begin to heal.

Anderson’s journey towards healing, and how those healing steps helped her become a writer, are interspersed with outrage towards those who foist themselves on boys and girls, friends, girlfriends, sisters, brothers, cousins and anyone who didn’t say “yes” to those advances. She offers strong encouragement and strength towards those who suffer in silence from the pain of sexual assault or rape.

Laurie doesn’t pull punches as she shouts out her outrage, calling out the Principal who cancelled the rest of her appearances at his school, after the first of three sessions “because those things [sex, rape, bodies touching, consent, and violence] don’t ever happen in his school” (p. 187). Censorship of “inappropriate books” also met the steely beam of her eyes, reminding us (and censors) “Censorship is the child of fear, the father of ignorance, and the desperate weapon of fascists everywhere.” (p. 191.)

In short, “Shout” loudly, lovingly and firmly gives victims of sexual assault the strength to stand firm, to speak their pain, and to rise up from the ashes knowing they’re not alone. The #MeToo movement gave voice to that which had had been hiding in the shadows for too long. However, with her memoir, Anderson takes that movement and puts it on an amplifier, giving knowledge and courage to her readers, infusing them with power and strength so they can also #MeToo and shout out their pain as they heal.

“Shout” is raw and truthful; a description of what happens when a slice of life is stolen from unwilling victims. Anderson’s pain from being a victim of sexual assault is your pain. Her fight to rise above her pain is your fight. Her courage to keep going forward is your courage. Her voice to educate others is your voice. Her healing is your healing. Her shout of victory is your shout.

I am going to predict “Shout” will win the 2019 YALSA Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature at the upcoming American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia, along with many other awards. When it wins, remember you read it first on my blog. I will be at that conference, and plan to SHOUT VERY LOUDLY at the ALA Youth Media Awards for Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Shout.”

Highly recommended for teens ages 14 and older, as well as Adults.

 

 

 

“I remember: Poems and pictures of heritage” compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins

I rememberRated 5 stars ***** Lee & Low. 2019. (Includes background material for each of the authors and illustrators, as well as definitions of words that might be difficult for readers to understand.)

How do you check “other” on a form asking about your race when you are bi-racial and more than an other? Do you have childhood memories spent with your grandmother? When you taste a specific food what memories come to mind that evoke your childhood? These questions and more are pondered in this book that’s rich with the voices of well-known diverse authors sharing their childhood memories through poetry.

Each poem is accompanied by a full page, brilliantly illustrated, full-color interpretation of the author’s words. The strength of the poems lie in their diversity of subject matter, because of the diverse authors and illustrators who created this compilation, and in the teachable moments that allow readers to better understand not only their own heritage but that of someone else.

Lee Bennett Hopkins mentioned in the introduction “Heritage makes us who we are…. [so] Read. Look. Listen. Hear. See.” Make sure you do. You’ll be amazed at what you learn.

Every public and school library should have a copy of this book, and should plan activities around it with their community. A compilation of childhood memories, written in poetic form by schools and communities across the country, would be an amazing tribute to the authors, illustrators, and to Lee Bennett Hopkins who passed away a few months ago.

Highly recommended for ages 8 and older.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

“This promise of change: One girl’s story in the fight for school equality” by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy

Rated 5 stars ***** 2019. “Special 2019 ALA Annual Edition.” 310 p. (Includes an “Introduction,” “Epilogue,” “Writing this book,” “Scrapbook,” “Timeline of school desegregation and civil rights landmarks,” “Quotation sources,” “Selected Bibliography,” and “Further reading.”)

This book was published January 8, 2019, but a special edition was given to attendees at the June 2019 American Library Association (ALA) Conference in Washington, D.C.

This promise of changeJo Ann Allen and her friends attended a Negro high school 20 miles away from their town of Clinton, Tennessee because they weren’t allowed to attend the all-White school where they lived. Though the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that schools were to be integrated, the law of the land was not applicable in Clinton. Their restaurants, theaters and buses were segregated, and rules that applied only to Blacks continued to be applied.

In 1956, when a judge decreed the town had to integrate the high school, Jo Ann and 11 of her friends became the first Black students to attend the school. They were known as The Clinton 12. Their first few days integrating the school seemed to pass quietly until outside agitators, local protestors, and the KKK arrived. Soon controversy and attacks on the students and Black residents began, as did demands to keep the school segregated.

Racial insensitivities of the time are chronicled in this extensively researched book and very moving book as Jo Ann tells her story in verse. Readers learn about the few White supporters they had in their quest for integration, as well as the support given to them by their church as well as their families and friends. The extensive back matter lends support to Jo Ann’s story, teaching readers more about their struggle, and the struggle of many Blacks to integrate schools across the South. There is also an important reminder that many schools in the United States remain segregated today, 65 years after the Supreme Court decision of 1954.

Highly recommended for ages 18 and older.

“Martí’s song for freedom: Martí y sus versos por la libertad” Emma Otheguy

Rated 5 stars ***** 2017. Children’s Book Press (Lee & Low). Includes “Afterword,” “Author’s Note,” and a “Selected Bibliography.”

Marti'sSongForFreedomJosé Martí (1853-1895) was born when Spain ruled Cuba with an iron fist. Slave labor on sugar plantations allowed the rich to become richer, oppressing natives of all races. Determined to free his people José advocated for freedom from Spain, which led to imprisonment and deportation. Despite being away from the island he loved, José continued his fight to abolish slavery from his new home in New York through poetry and speeches. Ultimately he gave his life for his country, remembered for the words he left behind which deeply illustrated his love for freedom and justice for all.

Otheguy’s well-researched bilingual picture book tells the story of Cuba’s greatest poet and patriot, as Vidal’s simply drawn, yet colorful paintings, illustrate his struggle in a clear, straightforward manner. It will appeal to older elementary readers, especially those in grades 3-6, and may well be a contender for the upcoming Pura Belpré award. If it wins or places, remember that you read it here first.

Recommended for ages 8-11.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“Finding Hope” Colleen Nelson

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. To be published April 12, 2016. Dundurn.

FindingHopeFifteen-year-old Hope can’t express herself except through poems she scrawls on her body, the wall, scraps of paper or any handy surface.

Something awful happened to Eric so, from anger, sadness and frustration, he turned to the sweet release of meth. Now an addict, cast out from his family and adrift on the sea of despair, he nurses revenge along with his broken dreams.

By transferring to a boarding school, Hope is sure she can transform herself and forget about Eric and his problems. Instead she gets involved with The Ravens, a popular group of girls who have their own plans for her. Their constant belittling and bullying soon leaves Hope drowning in her own sea of regret and loneliness, ready to throw away everything good in her life.

In alternate voices brother and sister tell their individual stories of loss, loneliness, despair and fear. Nelson’s short, cliffhanger chapters will keep teens reading until its very satisfying conclusion.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

“Shattered Blue” Lauren Bird Horowitz

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. The Light Trilogy, #1. Skyscape. To be published September 15, 2015.

ShatteredBlueI received this ARC from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

Noa has been struggling to hold herself together after the death of her sister Isla; her only joy her little sister Sasha and writing poetry. Her dark days take on a little cheer when transfer student Callum shows up at Harlow Academy, and they seem to have an instant connection. Though Callum is a fae who has been banished from his world, and can only live through Light emitted by mortals that drains them of happiness, they fall madly in love.

This love is tested when Judah, Callum’s brother, comes into their world. Judah is brash and fierce, contrasted with Callum’s calmness and quietness of strength, yet Noa finds herself drawn to both of them. When a Hunter from their world captures Callum he sets into motion a chain of events, which will change all of their lives forever.

“Shattered Blue” continues the worn out storyline of love triangles between one girl and two guys, making me want to cry out “ANOTHER triangle?!” I also had some questions and concerns for the author, but don’t want to give spoilers in this section of the review. However, if you don’t mind spoilers, keep scrolling down to read my questions.

Despite the love triangle and a few issues mentioned in the spoiler section, the book was rather interesting and caused me to become invested in the characters. Their search to right the wrongs brought on by lies and deception ended in a huge cliffhanger ending, which sets the stage for part two of the trilogy.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I am confused, and have many questions for the author. How did Judah’s missing ring get into Miles’ pocket when he wasn’t even in the same room as Fabian and Judah when they were fighting over it? What took Olivia and Miles so long to catch up to Judah and Noa when it seemed as if they would be hot on their trail when they saw them disappearing into the woods?

Lastly I want to go on record that I thought Callum’s explanation of what happened to Lily was too complicated to be believable, and was rather strange. Sasha wasn’t adopted, so I don’t know how his explanation fit into a pregnancy, as it didn’t make any sense from a practical point of view. I know it’s a fantasy and readers have to suspend disbelief, but this was rather hard to swallow.

“1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion” Morgan Llywelyn

Rated 5 stars ***** 1998. Irish Century Novels #1. Tom Doherty Associates. 447 pp. (Includes alphabetical list of Historical Characters, Maps, Notes and a Select Bibliography.)

1916When Ned Halloran was 15 years old, he and his parents left their small town in County Clare Ireland for his sister’s wedding in New York. Her fiancé had purchased second-class tickets for them to sail on the Titanic, and he was excited to be on board such a magnificent ship.

Though his parents were among those who perished that fateful night, Ned survived and returned to Ireland where he was sent to Scoil Eanna (Saint Enda’s School) for boys. Padraig Pearse, Headmaster, was a kind, gentle poet and lover of all things Irish and, under his years of tutelage, Ned grew into a man who learned to love his country and countrymen.

In Ned’s coming of age story readers are introduced to real Irish men and women who chafed and suffered under the yoke of British tyranny and dominance in the years leading up to 1916. Other uprisings over the many years of dominance over their country had failed, but the poets and revolutionaries who took part in The Easter Rising of 1916 were sure their fight would succeed and would create a free Republic for their beloved country. In great detail Llywelyn intermingles Ned’s story with those brave Irish men and women who, against all odds, fought against a more powerful army for the right to rule themselves in the country they loved.

Highly recommended for Adult readers.