MY STORY STARTS HERE

VOICES OF YOUNG OFFENDERS

Ellis’ (Sit, 2017, etc.) compilation shares stories from Canadian youth and adult offenders, many of whom have experienced homelessness and been in and out of juvenile detention centers, foster homes, and group homes.

Nearly all the people profiled had troubled childhoods, with parents or caregivers who were abusive, neglectful, substance abusers, or a combination of the above. The stories connect the history of physical and emotional violence in their families with the young people’s own experiences of mental health challenges, anger, theft, drugs, and gangs, mirroring the negative models and environments they had growing up. The stories are compelling and dark, with some sharing how they have taken responsibility for the role they played in perpetuating the cycle of inflicting pain on others with their actions as well as how they have begun to turn their lives around, especially with the help of restorative justice practices and diversion programs. Each story is told in a short chapter of four to six pages. Text boxes offer discussion questions, action steps, and contextual information that could be used as prompts with teens. While the stories are quite moving, readers may wonder how Ellis gained access to these individuals; transparency regarding the sourcing and adaptation of the stories, as well as around agency, privilege, and civil rights of this vulnerable population, would have provided valuable ethical context. The people profiled represent diversity across multiple dimensions.

A powerful collection. (references and resources) (Nonfiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-121-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A beautiful meditation on the tender, fraught interior lives of Black boys.

THE BEAUTIFUL STRUGGLE (ADAPTED FOR YOUNG ADULTS)

The acclaimed author of Between the World and Me (2015) reflects on the family and community that shaped him in this adaptation of his 2008 adult memoir of the same name.

Growing up in Baltimore in the ’80s, Coates was a dreamer, all “cupcakes and comic books at the core.” He was also heavily influenced by “the New York noise” of mid-to-late-1980s hip-hop. Not surprisingly then, his prose takes on an infectious hip-hop poetic–meets–medieval folklore aesthetic, as in this description of his neighborhood’s crew: “Walbrook Junction ran everything, until they met North and Pulaski, who, craven and honorless, would punk you right in front of your girl.” But it is Coates’ father—a former Black Panther and Afrocentric publisher—who looms largest in his journey to manhood. In a community where their peers were fatherless, Coates and his six siblings viewed their father as flawed but with the “aura of a prophet.” He understood how Black boys could get caught in the “crosshairs of the world” and was determined to save his. Coates revisits his relationships with his father, his swaggering older brother, and his peers. The result will draw in young adult readers while retaining all of the heart of the original.

A beautiful meditation on the tender, fraught interior lives of Black boys. (maps, family tree) (Memoir. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984894-03-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more