Posts Tagged 'community'

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan

Genre: Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 360 p.

Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends who attend a very liberal arts minded school where every student must join an after school club.  Jasmine is in the theater club, but quickly realizes that she will only be considered for certain parts due to her race and body type.  Chelsea, meanwhile, is in the poetry club but quits after it becomes clear that the teacher moderator is only interested in the classics, which in her opinion are old white men.  They end up deciding to create their own club called Write Like a Girl, which begins with a blog where they can write poems, post artwork, and feature women artists of all backgrounds.  There are some who object to the content early on and believe they are being too sensitive, but they push on to get their point across that they are at a daily disadvantage due to gender, race, body type, age, etc.  As they continue to find projects to express themselves they realize that there are plenty of women out there who also want their voices to be heard.  Unfortunately, the school administration does not want there to be any “incidents” that “instigate” trouble at school and threaten to ban their club.  How will Jasmine and Chelsea react to yet another group trying to silence their voices?  How do their families feel about their activist (or artivist) movements?  How do they balance all of these feelings and actions with the very real struggles that face them in their day to day lives?

This story is inspiring from the very beginning.  The way it is written the reader can easily see why the best friends would be so frustrated in their situation while at the same time the people who have all the power in their lives believe they are overreacting.  This book is very timely as there are many events that have happened this year that have really shown us all how certain people do not have the same voice in society due to race, gender, socioeconomic status, age, and so on.  Many people have been operating under the assumption that everyone in society has equal rights and that those rights have come a long way from where we were 50 years ago, but it’s apparent now that we still have a long way to go.  I also really liked how the characters stressed the importance of art in a variety of formats for truly making change and for helping them cope with their feelings and life events.  So often, writing, poetry, theater, and art are overlooked in schools and these forms of expression can be invaluable to students who need ways to share their voices and experiences.  There’s a lot to absorb in this story and many readers will find that it is wroth a second or third read. Highly recommended.

Extras by Scott Westerfeld

Genre: Fantasy

Age Level: 12 and up

# of Pages: 417 p.

Series: Uglies, Pretties, Specials

RAC Book: Yes

In this fourth book of the Uglies series, Aya is living as an ugly after the complete reconstruction of their societies. Now that no one is forced to look the same or get brain lesions, the resources they had previously shared happily are in short supply as people want to expand their houses and towns. Now that everyone is thinking clearly they are not satisfied with what they have and continue to want more and bigger things. The community has established a system for earning merits in order for people to acquire items they want. One way they earn merits is by giving everyone a face rank and the more famous a person is the more merits he or she gets. The other way is to earn merits through schoolwork and volunteering.

Aya is desperate to be famous like her brother, so she joins a group of girls called the Sly Girls. The Sly Girls are very mysterious and no one knows anything about them, so Aya feels if she can report a story on them she will get famous. What Aya ends up uncovering is bigger than she could have ever imagined and she quickly comes to realize that fame is not what she imagined.

This fourth book answers many questions unanswered in the Specials such as what has happened to everyone now that The Specials have been relieved of their power. There are many interesting and exciting events in this book, but the final outcome of the story seemed quickly resolved and not as interesting as the previous three. This new community and its rules are not described until well into the book and students might be confused as to why fame is so important to Aya. The door was definitely left open for further books and I have no doubt that students will be eagerly awaiting them. Worth a read, but not the strongest in the series.