Epic YA fiction! American Teenage Mariam is sent against her will to live for a while with her grandmother in Egypt. She is initially pretty bummed to leave the only life she knows (her peers at school have given her lots of crap about being Egyptian-American, so she carries a heavy dose of self- and cultural distaste). It turns out her grandmother isn’t bad and there’s lots of stuff to do (as well as some time for self-discovery, first love, first adultish independence, etc). But shit kind of hits of the fan due to the revolution going on (as well as some other stuff), and lots of growing has to be done. Amidst a great story, the book also subtly does lots of good work to dispel stereotypes about the Middle East and Arabs and Islam.
I haven’t seen one quite like this before; you should Check it out!
I found this whole cache of small-press LGBT teen books at the library that totally weren’t getting checked out. So I checked a bunch out to save them (In libraryland, the general rule we follow with teen books is that if something sits on the shelf without getting checked out for a year (and it doesn’t have specific local interest and it’s not bound to become a “Classic”) it gets weeded or sent to community redistribution).
Who: Tucker and Ella. Tucker’s a kinda butch lesbian and Ella’s a femme trans girl
What: Both entering their freshman year of college, they become suitemates and friends due to some terrible transphobic stuff that is happening on campus. All kinds of stuff happens, ranging from live action RPGs to protests to sex to lots of political conversations.
When: Modern era
Where: Some university in a far away non-urban place
Hot damn, this is one full book. If I don’t hang myself up on the idea that maybe too much was trying to be accomplished in a single book, I can say that this book is actually quite good. Lots of stuff happens, yet there’s a clean and tidy ending. It’s one of the few books I’ve read with a trans girl narrator, and I think it covers so much ground (see the tags) because there aren’t a lot of books with the same agenda/circumstance.
As a person who majored in women&gender studies in college and who resides in both academic and queer communities, I can say that the author and I are definitely on the same wavelength, and she makes a lot of really good points about how problematic institutions can be. If some of the right teens actually come into the library and pull this one off the shelf, it’s gonna rock their worlds. In a good way.
Before I gush about the fact that this book was pretty awesome, I want to point out that it was written by Sonia Manzano. Ring a bell? Didn’t for me either. I was too young to read the credits. How about Maria from Sesame Street? Bingo!!!
So The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano is historical fiction that takes place in Spanish Harlem in 1969. Our protagonist is 14, just working her first job outside the family’s bodega at a nearby Five and Dime. She’s always been used to the conditions of where she lives– but suddenly a new group The Young Lords (a Puerto Rican activist group) come to the neighborhood and starts talking about how bad the conditions are, and is trying to get the locals to protest with them. This book is awesome! It has all kinds of stuff going on– a difficult family history that was on both sides of a revolution, good writing, racist cops, clear ideas about the effects of poverty, coming of age, ambiguity about “good” or “bad,” learning about one’s culture, etc. The protagonist is smart and perceptive and interesting and her family is believable.
The book is being marketed to “Juvenile” readers (probably 5th to 7th grade), and I’m not sure that all the readers will “get it” outside of a classroom– but it’s still quite a good read regardless of your age.
A popular choice! The book review world and the internet world were generally pretty excited about this one.
I wasn’t as obsessed with it as I was with some of Lahiri’s other writing, but it was still a pretty sweet book. The beginning was pretty slow for me, but as I got used to unfamiliar names and places and dug further into her characters’ lives, I kept reading (fairly raptly). There are tons of details in this book that don’t all necessarily peak– the text is more about the story than the solution (this would have been obnoxious for me at other parts of my life, but right now I’m ok with the mellowness). But with that said, Lahiri tries to bring some solution into maybe the last 15 or 20% of the book, and it felt a little unnecessary.
But still, it’s a pretty epic book that takes place across oceans and generations. Check it out.