An important and eye-opening book that all parents, teachers, and educational administrators should read.

A revealing exploration of the current state of the teaching profession.

In her latest, Robbins, bestselling author of The Nurses, The Overachievers, Pledged, Fraternity, and other behind-the-scenes examinations, takes us into schools in America. The author followed three teachers from various regions of the country over the course of a school year, and she interviewed hundreds of others, providing an intimate view into the daily lives of educators. Even before the pandemic, writes Robbins, “the education landscape had already darkened considerably.” The rapidly deteriorating conditions at schools during the pandemic led to an exodus of many well-qualified educators from the profession as well as a shortage of substitute teachers. The pandemic also “further exposed the nation’s shameful mistreatment of teachers, which remains underaddressed.” According to the research that Robbins presents in this book, teachers are often subjected to toxic working conditions while they struggle to educate our nation’s children and are not offered the same respect as people in other professions. Teachers often face outrageous and overwhelming demands from parents and administrators as well as hostile cliques and bullying from co-workers. In addition to violence in schools, they now must contend with the growing movements to ban books and censor classroom material. Despite the increased demands and responsibilities placed on teachers, including the pressures of standardized testing and larger class sizes, they continue to remain underpaid. Refreshingly, the author also spotlights teachers who have chosen to remain in the profession despite the myriad challenges, sharing inspiring stories from the teachers she interviewed as well as tips and suggestions regarding how to better interact with students, parents, and colleagues. Some of the stories contain harsh language and very personal details about the lives of the teachers, but these narratives help illustrate her point that teachers deserve far more respect—and compensation—than they currently receive.

An important and eye-opening book that all parents, teachers, and educational administrators should read.

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 9781101986752

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022


From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020


A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Black Americans declare their love.

This anthology brings together dozens of love letters by prominent Black Americans. The entries, interspersed with illustrations, address an eclectic mix of topics arranged under five categories: Care, Awe, Loss, Ambivalence, and Transformation. In their introduction, editors Brown and Johnson note the book’s inspiration in the witnessing of violence directed at Black America. Reckonings with outrage and grief, they explain, remain an urgent task and a precondition of creating and sustaining loving bonds. The editors seek to create “a site for our people to come together on the deepest, strongest emotion we share” and thus open “the possibility for shared deliverance” and “carve out a space for healing, together.” This aim is powerfully realized in many of the letters, which offer often poignant portrayals of where redemptive love has and might yet be found. Among the most memorable are Joy Reid’s “A Love Letter to My Hair,” a sensitive articulation of a hard-won sense of self-love; Morgan Jerkins’ “Dear Egypt,” an exploration of a lifelong passion for an ancient world; and VJ Jenkins’ “Pops and Dad,” an affirmation that it “is beautiful to be Black, to be a man, and to be gay.” Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Home: A Reckoning” is particularly thoughtful and incisive in its examination of a profound attachment, “in the best and worst ways,” to Louisville, Kentucky. Most of the pieces pair personal recollections with incisive cultural commentary. The cumulative effect of these letters is to set forth a panorama of opportunities for maintaining the ties that matter most, especially in the face of a cultural milieu that continues to produce virulent forms of love’s opposite. Other contributors include Nadia Owusu, Jamila Woods, Ben Crump, Eric Michael Dyson, Kwame Dawes, Jenna Wortham, and Imani Perry.

A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781638931201

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Get Lifted Books/Zando

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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