This anthology has been on my highly anticipated releases list since the exact day it was announced. And I’m so so glad that I finally got the opportunity to read it. This was powerful, nuanced, thought provoking, made me very emotional or enraged at times, but also gave me hope. We all need some hope in our lives.
As the world around us gets increasingly divided and marginalized people have to fight for their rights even harder every day, this is a very powerful collection of poems and stories about young people who are also fighting to get their voices heard. There are a lot of important themes and messages discussed in this book but the one thing I found very relevant and impactful was that protesting physically at a march or a rally isn’t the only form of resistance, and everyone should try to do whatever they can in their sphere of influence; but sometimes, it’s okay to take a break when you are exhausted and spend some time on self care without feeling guilty that you aren’t doing enough. Every form of resistance counts.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves reading books with socially relevant themes.
Below are my individual reviews, wherever I was able to write one.
GRACE: A SHORT STORY BY DARCIE LITTLE BADGER
The story of a young indigenous girl, this is about her standing up for herself and not allowing anyone to disrespect her. It may feel like a very small thing but I thought what Grace does is very powerful and I loved it. There is also the underlying theme of wanting to find the one place you can call home and what it would actually feel like to have one. Very very moving.
SHIFT: A POEM BY JASON REYNOLDS
I’m not very good at understanding poems and that was the case here. It was very short and I didn’t know what the author was trying to say. But I will leave it unrated because it’s just not my thing and not a fault of the poem itself.
THE HELPERS: A SHORT STORY BY L. D. LEWIS
I think this story really captured the guilt that some people might feel who want to fight the injustices they see everyday but are unable to participate in protests for whatever reason; it wonderfully depicts that anything you can do during adversity counts as resistance and you don’t always have to put yourself in physical danger to show your solidarity and standup for your beliefs.
FIGHTING THE BLUES: A COMIC BY CONNIE SUN
This might just be a small comic strip but it’s message is very universal – a lot of things that happen around you can bring you down but it’s important to remember that you are not alone and you shouldn’t give up. And the art really captured that essence of despair.
ARE YOU THE GOOD KIND OF MUSLIM?: A POEM BY SAMIRA AHMED
As you can guess from the title of this poem, it was heartbreaking to read – how very young, brown, Muslim children are asked pointed questions about their faith which seem innocuous on the surface but are seeped full of racism and Islamophobia. And however old these young kids grow up to be and feel they are ready to handle these bad faith questions, it’s never easy. This particular line from the poem just destroyed me 😭😭
“You want to go home. Even when Home doesn’t
always want you”
AURORA RISING: A SHORT STORY BY YAMILE SAIED MÉNDEZ
This one was full of micro aggressions, and how a white passing young woman of Argentinian immigrants just tries to ignore it all because she doesn’t want to lose her friendships or want her friends to think she is making a big deal about her race. Her eventual realization that she doesn’t need to apologize for existing or for standing up for herself is written very thoughtfully and I loved it.
RUTH: A SHORT STORY BY LAURA SILVERMAN
It’s always amazing to read a story about a book blogger and this was no different. As a young Jewish woman who is vocal on social media, she is targeted by the expected anti-Semitic troll bots and the avalanche of horrifying tweets makes her want to just shut it all off – but her realizing that allowing the trolls to control the narrative is counter productive, and she should use her platform to make her voice heard in the best way she can (through books) is beautifully described and I loved the way Ruth handled it all.
I AM THE REVOLUTION: A POEM BY KEAH BROWN
The underlying meaning (that I understood) of this poem is that when the world is hostile to you just because you want to live free and happy, even your existence is an act of resistance. Written along the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement, this poem is short but full of depth and meaning and very powerful.
AS YOU WERE: A SHORT STORY BY BETHANY C. MORROW
The author mentions in the preface that this story is based on something that happened in real life and that just makes it even more horrifying. The way the story goes from the joy a young Black woman feels while marching with her band to excitement about asking her crush for Homecoming to the absolute dread of being stopped while driving, this one shook me completely and I still have no words to describe what I’m feeling.
No one should have to live in a world where a small thing like being stopped for speeding becomes a life or death situation and the stuff of nightmares just because of the color of your skin, but unfortunately it’s the world we live in and I sometimes feel so hopeless. I don’t want to say much to spoil the story but the emotions it evokes are powerful and I think everyone should read it, but also be mindful of the content if you have ever been in such a situation before.
THE REAL ONES: A SHORT STORY BY SOFIA QUINTERO
This was a very empowering story of how girls should stick together, show solidarity towards each other and never fight because of a guy. I’m all for the power of girlfriends 👍👍
PARKER OUTSIDE THE BOX: A SHORT STORY BY RAY STOEVE
There were just so many important themes discussed in this story that I was amazed, and it was done brilliantly. The ones that particularly struck me were about how even knowing one person who is trans when you are young and exploring your own gender identity can feel very affirming, and how just belonging to the LGBT+ community doesn’t give you the right to speak for any identity other than your own (especially when you are not giving others the chance to speak up for themselves). Very well written with a hopeful and sweet message.
UNTITLED: A POEM BY JASON REYNOLDS
I’m sorry Jason for not being able to understand the messages behind your poems 😭😭
HOMECOMING: A SHORT STORY BY DARCIE LITTLE BADGER
This brings the first story in the collection a full circle with Grace finding a home, finally feeling connected to her indigenous land and also shutting down any debate about her heritage in the process. I thought the scene where her mom tells her that the best way of being part of the resistance is to love yourself, was simple but very meaningful. A great and powerful way to end the book.