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

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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

Tyler Johnson Was Here – Jay Coles

Tyler Johnson Was HereTyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Received: Distributor
First Published: March 20th, 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 13+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Racism, Social Issues, Family, Romance, College


BLURB:

When Marvin Johnson’s twin, Tyler, goes to a party, Marvin decides to tag along to keep an eye on his brother. But what starts as harmless fun turns into a shooting, followed by a police raid. The next day, Tyler has gone missing, and it’s up to Marvin to find him. But when Tyler is found dead, a video leaked online tells an even more chilling story: Tyler has been shot and killed by a police officer. Terrified as his mother unravels and mourning a brother who is now a hashtag, Marvin must learn what justice and freedom really mean. Continue reading

Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

31207017Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Distributor
Published: January 16th, 2018
Publisher: Soho Teen
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Romance, Islamophobia, High School


BLURB:

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school. There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs. Continue reading

Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

28587957Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Random House Canada
Publication Date: October 11th, 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Point of View: 1st Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Racism, Law, Family

Buy: Book Depository

BLURB:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game. Continue reading