A triumphant memoir that offers hope for Somalia’s and, indeed, America’s futures.

CALL ME AMERICAN (ADAPTED FOR YOUNG ADULTS)

THE EXTRAORDINARY TRUE STORY OF A YOUNG SOMALI IMMIGRANT

Somali-born Iftin presents a narrative of his journey from a war-torn homeland to his current life in Maine.

The story begins with the catastrophic drought and war of the late 1970s that interrupted his young parents’ carefree and wealthy nomadic life in a lush region of south-central Somalia. Neither they nor the country ever managed to recover as one cycle of conflict led to another, raging on until the present day. These waves of violence reduced everyday Somalis’ lives to ones of chronic poverty, displacement, uncertainty, and fear but failed to extinguish hopes or dreams. Iftin, who was probably born in 1985, and his beloved brother schemed moneymaking enterprises together, skipping school to sell snacks to moviegoers. Under the noses of religious authorities, he arranged secret rendezvous with his first crush. Given the circumstances, Iftin’s boyish escapades involved a level of daring that maintains suspense. Later, as a college student in Mogadishu, he recorded reports for NPR’s The Story despite potentially life-threatening repercussions from al-Shabaab. Chief among Iftin’s dreams was to live in America, his impressions of the country fed by Black pop culture and American movies, which did not prepare him for the complex racial realities that he encountered and recognized as a form of tribalism when he eventually made it to the U.S. This remarkable, nuanced story facilitates a deeper understanding of immigration today.

A triumphant memoir that offers hope for Somalia’s and, indeed, America’s futures. (glossary) (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9711-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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