Top positive review
Good, with lots of meaty issues - informed adult readers might find the start a bit of an info dump
Reviewed in the United States on March 29, 2019
THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW, but only in the context of potentially questionable material (I give the exact examples), not in the sense of a summary that ruins everything.
All in all, a pretty good read.
I am not the target demographic, but I run a book club for a group of girls from diverse backgrounds and cultures (grades 6-9) and am always on the lookout for the next great read. This had a lot to commend it: dual protagonists, current diversity issues, and a healthy dose of social justice. What is not to like?
- alternating POV keeps things moving
- one African American girl & one white girl give an interesting perspective on issues
- one of the first books with a heavier protagonist (she says 'fat') who talks about the difficulties of not being petite in today's America in a caring an honest manner
- LOTS of poetry
- LOTS of people to look up
- LOTS of really awesome real life quotes
- EXCELLENT resource section in the back for readers inspired to do more and be more
- diverse range of issues: misogyny, sexism, fat-shaming, self-esteem and the marketing world, the princess industrial machine, speaking up, being active in the cause of change, grief & loss, intergenerational differences in dealing with these issues, poverty, food deserts, and more...
- mostly clean. No sex, but the vague insinuation of it "to do it"; one kiss (non-explicit and it's just "awwww"), and a brief mention of "making out"; , no swearing (I think the word "bi*ch" shows up once); one mention of a woman being married to a woman and the mention of the LGBTQIA acronym, the word "pussy" used as an empowerment word; the words "slut" and "whore" on a bathroom stall and the word "slut shaming" - all in the context on how women are judged and the standards they are held to; the words "hip-grinding and body banging" are in a poem - that is the sum total of their appearance; one protagonist realises that she wants to kiss her long-time friend Isaac.
It sounds like a lot, but for a teen book, this is really minor stuff. I was also exhaustive in my catalogue.
- in the interest of getting the readers up to speed, the front end had a lot of "telling" as compared to showing. Personally, after 50 pages, even I was fed up with how "progressive" everything in their school was, and how attuned to social justice their education was. It was just a bit much.
However, power through, because once you get into the story, that fades out and the story begins.
This particular point is probably a bit unfair, since the needs of the story dictate that the reader be up on all these issues and their various arguments. As I said, I am not the target audience.
A note: race was not the central focus. I love and read many books where race is the central focus, and this book was less vocal about that issue, because there were already so. many. issues. on. the. table. The issues of race are always present on the page, but often not the main discussion.
After reading one of the other reviews on Amazon, I have to agree with the reviewer who found Chelsea a bit of a pot-stirrer and grating. Yes. Her character was a bit over-the-top "passionate" about her cause in a way that was sometimes exhausting as a reader. But again, being older than the target demographic, I suspect that the teen readers might be more accommodating.
Would I recommend it to Grade 8s and up? YES. There is a lot to be learned, a lot to talk about and a lot of inspiration. The characters are passionate about standing up for themselves and pushing for change where they feel it's needed. Great book to empower girls and open a lot of conversations about the issues in the world they live in.