Posts Categorized: Diversity 5

Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

July 13, 2017 Diversity 5 0 ★★★★★

Review: American Street by Ibi ZoboiAmerican Street by Ibi Zoboi
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 14, 2017
Genres: Magical Realism, YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Goodreads
five-stars
The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

Diversity Rating: 5 – Diverse as Fuck

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (the entire cast is black save Kasim, who’s Middle Eastern)
QUILTBAG: 4 (Princess is a lesbian)
Disability: 3 (Matant Jo recently had a stroke that’s caused some paralysis)
Intersectionality: 5 (also includes police violence, the difficulties of black girlhood and immigrant girlhood mixed, and so many more intersectional issues)

Back in the fall of 2015, I took a course called Literature by Women of Color, which was specifically focused on Caribbean authors thanks to the professor’s specialization in that field. It was one of the toughest courses I took in college because she demanded the best from my papers, but it was also one of the most rewarding for the same reason. I still own two of the four books we read in the course and I’d like personal copies of the other two.

What does American Street have to do with all that? It’s such an intelligent, gorgeously written book in touch with the modern immigrant’s experience that it would fit right into the course. If I weren’t such a coward, I’d email that professor and let her know about it if she didn’t already know. Maybe she could teach it in a future section or suggest it to students who are enthusiastic about the subject. Taking that class enriched this book for me and I think American Street would enrich the course too. Read more »

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Review: Bad Boy by Elliot Wake

November 21, 2016 Diversity 5 0 ★★★★

Review: Bad Boy by Elliot WakeBad Boy by Elliot Wake
Published by Atria Books on December 6, 2016
Genres: NA Thriller
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: eARC via Edelweiss
Goodreads
four-stars
Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.

Diversity Rating: 5 – Diverse as Fuck

Racial-Ethnic: 3 (Tamsin is dark-skinned, though I can’t recall much else)
QUILTBAG: 5 (you’re honestly hard-pressed to find a het person in the novel)
Disability: 4 (Ren is depressed, Blythe is bipolar, and there’s a lot more than that)
Intersectionality: 5 (Wake’s characters are brimming with intersections of identity)

God help you if you try to read Bad Boy before Wake’s previous novels Black Iris and Cam Girl because it’s gonna spoil you hardcore on events and twists from those novels. I’m putting that first because I decided not to heed Wake’s warning and I regret it somewhat. The excellency found within Bad Boy‘s pages ensures I’ll go back to read the previous novels anyway! Read more »

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Review: My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

November 4, 2016 Diversity 5, Reviews 1 ★★★★½

my-sister-rosaMy Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
Published by Soho Teen on November 15, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary, YA Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
four-half-stars
What if the most terrifying person you know is your ten-year-old sister?

Seventeen-year-old Aussie Che Taylor loves his younger sister, Rosa. But he’s also certain that she’s a diagnosable psychopath—clinically, threateningly, dangerously. Recently Rosa has been making trouble, hurting things. Che is the only one who knows; he’s the only one his sister trusts. Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and very good at hiding what she is and the violence she’s capable of.

Their parents, whose business takes the family from place to place, brush off the warning signs as Rosa’s “acting out.” Now that they have moved again—from Bangkok to New York City—their new hometown provides far too many opportunities for Rosa to play her increasingly complex and disturbing games. Alone, Che must balance his desire to protect Rosa from the world with the desperate need to protect the world from her.

Diversity Rating: 5 – Diverse as Fuck

It’s been so long since I read the novel that I can’t recall everything well enough for a proper explanation, but it includes Korean-American sisters, one of whom is a lesbian; a character named Elon whose pronouns are just Elon, putting the character somewhere in the ballpark of agender; a black love interest with lesbian mothers; Che’s ethnic Jewish identity through his paternal family; and serious consideration of whether Rosa’s condition is a mental illness or disability in itself due to her exhibiting symptoms once she hit toddlerhood. It’s earned the 5 rating.

Children creep me out on a good day, so it goes without saying that a tiny, sociopathic child like Rosa would terrify me. Honestly, Larbalestier’s latest wasn’t even on my radar at first! My buddy Lili recommended the book to me and I just happened to have access to it, so I dove right in. Wow. In a nutshell, My Sister Rosa is fucked up and impossible to put down. Read more »

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Review: Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern

April 25, 2016 Diversity 5, Reviews 1 ★★★½

Review: Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovernRules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern
Published by Farrar Straus & Giroux on November 24, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
three-half-stars
A heartrending but ultimately uplifting debut novel about learning to accept life's uncertainties; a perfect fit for the current trend in contemporary realistic novels that confront issues about life, death, and love.

Seventeen-year-old Rose Levenson has a decision to make: Does she want to know how she’s going to die? Because when Rose turns eighteen, she can take the test that will tell her if she carries the genetic mutation for Huntington’s disease, the degenerative condition that is slowly killing her mother. With a fifty-fifty shot at inheriting her family’s genetic curse, Rose is skeptical about pursuing anything that presumes she’ll live to be a healthy adult—including going to ballet school and the possibility of falling in love. But when she meets a boy from a similarly flawed genetic pool, and gets an audition for a dance scholarship in California, Rose begins to question her carefully-laid rules.

Diversity Rating: 5 – Diverse as Fuck

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (Rose is an Ashkenazi Jew through her mother, Caleb and his family are black
QUILTBAG: 1 (Rose meets a gay couple in passing on a train; minor)
Disability: 5 (Rose’s mother has Huntington’s and Rose may share the gene; Caleb’s family has the sickle cell anemia gene and his mother as well as his sisters have the disease)
Intersectionality: 4 (lots of minor characters who come from various intersections of identity as well as the above)

Some books, you can churn a review out for right after finishing them if reviewing stuff is your jam. Others need a little more time. Rules for 50/50 Chances needed to sit in my brain and cook for three months before I found any words for it. It happens! That’s not a bad thing, though. It’s a book that you should take your time with and appreciate. Read more »

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Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

September 14, 2015 Diversity 5, Reviews 1 ★★★½

Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose OlderShadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on June 30, 2015
Genres: YA
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in SHADOWSHAPER, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent.

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra's near-comatose abuelo begins to say "No importa" over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep.... Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order's secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick's supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family's past, present, and future.

Diversity Rating: 5 – Diverse as Fuck

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (the only white person is the antagonist, so I’d say we’re good here)
QUILTBAG: 2 (we’ve got a lesbian couple in Sierra’s friend group)
Disability: 2 (Sierra’s grandfather is debilitated due to a stroke)
Intersectionality: 5 (all the above and then some like class)

Daniel Jose Older is an amazon person and advocate for diversity on Twitter, and I enjoy reading the books of such people as much as possible. Shadowshaper sounded like a bundle of fun and the fact almost the entire cast is POC is how you sell me a novel for real. I don’t like Cassandra Clare as a writer or person,but the pitch of “Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean folklore” is on point!

Read more »

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Review: Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche

August 17, 2015 Diversity 5, Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarcheDon't Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche
Published by Razorbill on September 1, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from Amazon Vine
Goodreads
four-stars
From the author of Like No Other, the novel Entertainment Weekly calls "One of the most poignant and star-crossed love stories since The Fault in Our Stars": What if the last hope to save your family is the person who broke it up to begin with?
 
Michelle and her little siblings Cass and Denny are African-American and living on the poverty line in urban Baltimore, struggling to keep it together with their mom in jail and only Michelle’s part-time job at the Taco Bell to sustain them.

Leah and her stepbrother Tim are white and middle class from suburban Maryland, with few worries beyond winning lacrosse games and getting college applications in on time.

Michelle and Leah only have one thing in common: Buck Devereaux, the biological father who abandoned them when they were little.

After news trickles back to them that Buck is dying, they make the uneasy decision to drive across country to his hospice in California. Leah hopes for closure; Michelle just wants to give him a piece of her mind.

Five people in a failing, old station wagon, living off free samples at food courts across America, and the most pressing question on Michelle’s mind is: Who will break down first--herself or the car? All the signs tell her they won’t make it. But Michelle has heard that her whole life, and it’s never stopped her before....

Una LaMarche triumphs once again with this rare and compassionate look at how racial and social privilege affects one family in crisis in both subtle and astonishing ways.

Diversity Rating: 5 – Diverse as Fuck

Racial-Ethnic: 5 (Michelle, Cass, and Denny are black/biracial; Leah and Tim are white and Michelle regularly makes them confront their privilege)
QUILTBAG: 3 (Cass is a lesbian)
Disability: 4 (Cass is diabetic, Denny probably has an undiagnosed behavior disorder)
Intersectionality: 5 (Michelle, Cass, and Denny live in poverty/semi-poverty and there are many other intersections of identity)

This will be a happy novel, the cover says. It’ll be a fun romp with two Pollyanna-ish half-sisters going to tell off their awful dad while snarking all the way there, the jacket copy says. DON’T LISTEN TO ANY OF IT BECAUSE IT’S ALL A LIE. Don’t Fail Me Now hurts to a ridiculous degree and I want to set curses on whoever decided to make it look and sound happy. This is the kind of book so wonderful and painful that you want a warning of what you’re in for, but it’s absolutely worth reading nonetheless because it tears the stuffing out of white privilege. Read more »

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Review Bomb 2: The Groove Ain’t Back Yet

May 21, 2015 Diversity 2, Diversity 4, Diversity 5, Reviews 0

Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Format: eARC

Yeah, I had another set of fails at reviewing things on time and all these books are ~2 months old in terms of when I read them. There’s no way I remember enough to review them fully, so have another tiny review bomb!

All three were ARCs I got from their respective publishers via NetGalley/Edelweiss.

The Walls Around UsThe Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
March 24, 2015 (Algonquin Young Readers)
Rating: 4.5
Diversity Rating: 2 (confronts the issue of how girls of color are treated by police and such but has just one mixed-race character, Ori) Read more »

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