Ghost Boys – Jewell Parker Rhodes

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Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: April 17th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Police Brutality, History, Racism, Family, Friendship, Ghosts


REVIEW:

Some authors write 400-page books and never manage to successfully convey their intended message to their readers. Jewell Parker Rhodes here wrote a 200-page story that brims with strength, power and importance. Continue reading

Color Me In – Natasha Diaz

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Color Me In by Natasha Diaz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: August 20th, 2019
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Family, Romance, Racism, Poverty, Coming of Age, Poetry


REVIEW:

I knew I would love this book the moment I read its description and saw that it was inspired by the author’s own past lived experiences. True events always make something more meaningful for me because if they’re developed well into a story, it makes the whole book so much more realistic and memorable. This is why I adore reading memoirs as much as fictional stories. Plus, the author’s note at the end is incredible. Continue reading

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground – Alicia Elliott

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground
A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: March 26th, 2019
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Recommended Age: 15+
Genres & Themes: Nonfiction, Essays, Indigenous Issues, Canada, Racism, Coming of Age, Poverty, Sexual Assault


REVIEW:

I try to read both fiction and non-fiction books with a variety of themes – love, friendship, family, coming of age, racism, discrimination, abuse – but I think this is the first time I read essays from an indigenous author. I know she’d rather I didn’t label her but I needed to mention this because I try to read everything and anything and yet it’s very rare I encounter written works from native peoples. This has to change for me. I need to actively seek them out, because reading about poverty, abuse, sexual assault, racism and discrimination from different perspectives provides you with new understandings of these issues. If I only read about social issues discussed by white authors or African Americans as I tend to do, I am limiting myself to specific perspectives. Continue reading

Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream

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Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: July 24th, 2018
Publisher: Hachette Books
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Slow/Normal
Genres & Themes: Memoir, Nonfiction, Sports, Religion, Family, Racism, Coming of Age, Determination, Success, Motivation


BLURB:

Growing up in New Jersey as the only African American Muslim at school, Ibtihaj Muhammad always had to find her own way. When she discovered fencing, a sport traditionally reserved for the wealthy, she had to defy expectations and make a place for herself in a sport she grew to love. From winning state championships to three-time All-America selections at Duke University, Ibtihaj was poised for success, but the fencing community wasn’t ready to welcome her with open arms just yet. As the only woman of color and the only religious minority on Team USA’s saber fencing squad, Ibtihaj had to chart her own path to success and Olympic glory. Continue reading

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

I'm Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Published: May 15th, 2018
Publisher: Convergent Books
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Adult, Memoir, Nonfiction, Race, Social Justice, Discrimination, Religion


BLURB:

Austin Channing Brown’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age 7, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, Austin writes, “I had to learn what it means to love blackness,” a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, speaker and expert who helps organizations practice genuine inclusion. In a time when nearly all institutions (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claim to value “diversity” in their mission statements, I’m Still Here is a powerful account of how and why our actions so often fall short of our words. Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice, in stories that bear witness to the complexity of America’s social fabric–from Black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations. Continue reading

Paper Butterflies – Lisa Heathfield

34007508Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Distributor
Published: October 1st, 2017
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Abuse, Racism, Bullying, Romance, Family, Friendship


BLURB: 

June’s stepmother physically abuses her, but June can’t find the words to tell anyone. Her only hope is her friendship with Blister, a boy who helps her believe she can escape. Then a shocking tragedy occurs and June finds herself trapped, potentially forever. Continue reading

Lies We Tell Ourselves – Robin Talley

20579291Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Borrowed
Published: September 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Recommended Age: 13+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, LGBT, Integration, Desegregation, High School, Racism


BLURB:

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever. Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal. Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another. Continue reading