A follow-up to Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different (2018) that includes girls and women.
All of the strengths and weaknesses of Brooks’ earlier collection can be found here as well. Readers learn about 76 artists, athletes, inventors, and philanthropists, distilled into one-page entries opposite a portrait. Many of the entries are clumsily written, and the only times the subjects get to speak for themselves are in occasional unsourced, sound-bite–y pablum. In addition to individuals, Brooks also profiles the band Bikini Kill, the Syrian White Helmets, and the German anti-Nazi Edelweiss Pirates. Some of the entries, such as the Wright Brothers’, stretch the idea of “difference.” The collection’s general attitude posits that disabilities are tragedies that one can overcome with the right attitude, an idea often pushed back against by disability activists. Other entries seem to laud white savior–ism, such as one about two white women who “had always been drawn to Africa,” which tries to explain female genital cutting to young audiences as “a traditional ritual that…involves the girls being painfully and pointlessly mutilated for life.” The one trans person, Roberta Cowell, is predominantly referred to by her old name and pronouns, with liberal use of the “wrong body” trope. The overall message of individualism may be inspirational for some, but it will definitely feel limiting to others.
There’s plenty of interesting information in this collection, but there’s a lot to sift through to get to it. (Collective biography. 8-12)