A book for reluctant readers that highlights the heroism of young activists.

READ REVIEW

STANDING STRONG

From the PathFinders series

Rhonda Runningcrane, a Blackfoot teenager, feels she has nothing to live for until she hears about a peaceful movement to preserve clean water for her community.

Set on a fictional reservation called Standing Stone, the novel borrows heavily from actual events surrounding the Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline protest. Suicide, sexual abuse, spousal abuse, alcoholism, diabetes, drugs, and murder appear in the first eight pages, and this bleak picture of life on the reservation is only partially addressed with the transformation of the main character into an environmental activist. Robinson (Choctaw/Cherokee) (Lands of Our Ancestors Teacher's Guide, 2017, etc.) uses the presence of a female elder and a mechanically savvy uncle as role models for Rhonda, but her development is limited to her relationship to traditional ways. A bit too short to paint a contemporary picture of Rhonda or dig into the historic roots of the troubles Native youth face in America today, the novel relies on a cultural script with few surprises. Even so, the story is an important one as it highlights the relationship between Native oppression and the extractive industries in the United States. In acknowledging the non-Native allies who stood alongside the Native protesters, the novel builds a bridge between communities, reminding readers that we are all affected by the damage being done to the Earth.

A book for reluctant readers that highlights the heroism of young activists. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-939053-22-0

Page Count: 120

Publisher: 7th Generation

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A resounding success.

CONCRETE ROSE

This literary DeLorean transports readers into the past, where they hope, dream, and struggle alongside beloved characters from Thomas’ The Hate U Give (2017).

The tale begins in 1998 Garden Heights, when Starr’s parents, Maverick and Lisa, are high school seniors in love and planning for the future. Thomas proves Game of Thrones–esque in her worldbuilding ability, deepening her landscape without sacrificing intimacy or heart. Garden Heights doesn’t contain dragons or sorcerers, but it’s nevertheless a kingdom under siege, and the contemporary pressures its royalty faces are graver for the realness that no magic spell can alleviate. Mav’s a prince whose family prospects are diminished due to his father’s federally mandated absence. He and his best friend, King, are “li’l homies,” lower in status and with everything to prove, especially after Mav becomes a father. In a world where masculinity and violence are inextricably linked to power, the boys’ very identities are tied to the fathers whose names they bear and with whose legacies they must contend. Mav laments, “I ain’t as hard as my pops, ain’t as street as my pops,” but measuring up to that legacy ends in jail or the grave. Worthy prequels make readers invest as though meeting characters for the first time; here they learn more about the intricate hierarchies and alliances within the King Lord gang and gain deeper insight into former ancillary characters, particularly Mav’s parents, King, and Iesha. Characters are Black.

A resounding success. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284671-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This story is necessary. This story is important.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 23

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more