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Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America Hardcover – August 14, 2018
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This collection of twenty-one essays from major YA authors—including award-winning and bestselling writers—touches on a powerful range of topics related to growing up female in today’s America, and the intersection with race, religion, and ethnicity. Sure to inspire hope and solidarity to anyone who reads it, Our Stories, Our Voices belongs on every young woman’s shelf.
This anthology features essays from Martha Brockenbrough, Jaye Robin Brown, Sona Charaipotra, Brandy Colbert, Somaiya Daud, Christine Day, Alexandra Duncan, Ilene Wong (I.W.) Gregorio, Maurene Goo. Ellen Hopkins, Stephanie Kuehnert, Nina LaCour, Anna-Marie LcLemore, Sandhya Menon, Hannah Moskowitz, Julie Murphy, Aisha Saeed, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Amber Smith, and Tracy Walker.
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Gr 9 Up–Twenty-one YA authors—including such well-known figures as Ellen Hopkins, Maurene Goo, and Printz award-winner Nina LaCour, as well as two unpublished authors selected from a call for submissions—reflect on their early lives and what it means to be a woman in the United States. Many of these writers experienced marginalization as younger girls based on race, immigration status, sexuality, or simply not fitting in. Each turned to writing as solace, an outlet, or a way of speaking out against injustice. The stories are all unique, some focusing on the subject’s childhood, others on their lives as adults. Many discuss their anger at the recent presidential election and put out an inspiring call to action. The authors speak directly to readers in an informal tone; the essays are written in the first person with some casual profanity. A content warning in the editor’s note mentions that the entries discuss race-based and sexual violence. A resource list includes websites of activist organizations, in addition to information on how to participate in the political system. VERDICT Many readers will see themselves reflected in the pages of this collection and be inspired by the first-hand accounts of overcoming adversity. A great pick for budding writers and activists.–Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA -- School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW ― July 2018
"Threaded through these essays is the power of art and creativity in tackling the task that lies ahead: forging a better, more just world for future generations. Truthful and empowering." ― Booklist
"Oustanding anthology . . . A clarion call to activism, the book empowers girls growing up with injustice in America by reflecting authentic and original voices from across the spectrums of race, gender, and religion and encourages them to speak their truths and become warriors for social justice."
― School Library Connection
About the Author
Other contributors include: Julie Murphy, Sandhya Menon, Ellen Hopkins, Amber Smith, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Kuehnert, Sona Charaipotra, Anna-Marie McLemore, Brandy Colbert, Martha Brockenbrough, Jaye Robin Brown, Maurene Goo, Aisha Saeed, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Hannah Moskowitz, Ilene (I.W.) Gregoria, Tracy Deonn Walker, Somaiya Daud, Christine Day, and Alexandra Duncan.
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 14, 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1534408991
- ISBN-13 : 978-1534408999
- Reading age : 14 years and up
- Grade level : 9 - 12
- Item Weight : 14.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #457,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Unfortunately, the execution of the collection leaves a bit to be desired, and if I were rating it exclusively on my enjoyment, it would be 3-star worthy (hence my compromise at 4 stars in the end). One of the problems that I found was that, frankly, the collection feels repetitive by the end of it. If I’d read one essay a day, maybe this wouldn’t have been an issue, but as it stands, I read this in two days, and was feeling by the end as though I was rereading earlier pieces.
My enjoyment for the collection as a whole dropped in the final third, where we had one story in particular from an author who has already proven herself not to be an intersectional ally of people of color, yet spent far too many pages explaining her privileged upbringing and humble-bragging about what a great activist she considers herself to be. It felt like a bold, unintentional reminder of why allocishet white women need to stop being what this society accepts as “the face of feminism”.
Of course, there were some real gems in the collection, like Anna-Marie McLemore’s; I always love the way she has with words, and her descriptions of how difficult it was to grow up religious in a world where her deity was whitewashed by the masses was incredibly insightful to me, as a white former Christian who never had to deal with those devastating thoughts as a child. I was also particularly fond of Sandhya Menon’s bit on immigrating from India, Julie Murphy’s story that managed to weave fat rep and recognizing that her privileges as a white woman still protected her despite her size, and Amy Reed’s devastating recounting of sexual assault.
All in all, while this was certainly not the best nonfiction anthology I’ve read, it’s still definitely worth a read (though you can probably skip Ellen Hopkins’ story with no harm done, to be fair). Especially if you are a person who sits in a great place of privilege, the greatest thing about this collection—and the reason I am still giving it 4 stars—is that I do think it has a great deal to offer in the ways of encouraging intersectionality, which is something we can never have too much of.
Not all of the essays will resonate with all readers, but that's the greatness of an anthology. Some pieces didn't do much for me, but I also know they'll work for other readers.
There is one glaring omission in the collection worth noting: there are no voices of trans women here. We have acknowledgement of trans women throughout, but, it is disappointing not to see their voices in here alongside these other women. Anna-Marie McLemore talks about her husband, who is trans, but it's still not a specific experience of being a trans woman.
Pass this along to readers who want a book about the current political climate -- most talk about the election (which, admittedly, gets tiring after a while, but if you don't read this in a single sitting, will not grow as tiring) -- and a book about being a girl in modern America. These women span all backgrounds, ethnicities, races, sexualities, and religions, and those intersections are emphasized. For readers who enjoy HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD, this would pair really nicely with it.