Category Archives: Societal Issues
I will admit that hip hop and rap are a little bit outside of my wheelhouse, but I love the education I’m getting with this book! Bri, the tough and talented protagonist is everything I want my students to be. She cares deeply for her family, is talented beyond her own knowing, and follows her dreams with the reckless abandon we only seem to find in our youth. I just want to buy her that pair of Timberlands!
“Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families” (Good Reads).
So, I’m usually more of a young adult fiction fan, but this non-fiction piece grabbed me and just wouldn’t let me go! I’ve never read a story of such a hateful and senseless crime. But even stranger is the fact that I came away not hating the perpetrator. There is some very subtle empathetic writing happening here. I will warn you that the crime itself as well as Sasha’s recovery is difficult to digest, but Richard’s character arc makes it worthwhile. This story will ask you to dig deep and discover just how much forgiveness do we have as human beings.
The book also provides an enlightening education on the LGBTQ acronym, specifically regarding gender roles that I found refreshingly straightforward.
“One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.
If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight,” (Good Reads).
Told in two perspectives, this is a book that I could not put down. When one boy was finished, I wanted to hear from the second right away. After watching his older brother brutally beat his classmate, Quinn must decide (under pressure from both sides) if he will be a bystander or an ally. This is a stark look at how far we have come since the Civil Rights Movement and of how far we have yet to go.
“Rashad is absent again today.
That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…
Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.
And that’s how it started,” (Good Reads).
This second book in the series suffers a bit from sophmore syndrome, but I enjoyed being back in the world of the scythedom very much. The best part for me was the apprentice/mentor portion of the text. Although at times the secondary story lines become a bit muddled, they do add depth and dimension to the story and save it from being too repetitive.
“Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.
Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?” (Good Reads).
Who doesn’t love a series? I mean, really! And one that looks at death in a whole new way? I. AM. IN! I thought this was such a clever look at mortality, especially through the eyes of the adolescent. The age old trope of the chosen one is given a fresh scrub in this realistic look at a dystopian world. I loved it and have recommended it to all kinds of readers!
“A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.
Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own,” (Good Reads).