Compelling and accessible for a younger generation energized to build a better world.

Adapted for teens from the 2020 adult bestseller, this timely work urges readers to complicate conversations around American race and class divisions.

“What does racist mean in an era when even extremists won’t admit to it?” asks Wilkerson, who introduces readers to caste, “an artificial construction” not solely based on race or class but “a fixed and embedded ranking of human value.” In America, she writes, there’s a “shape-shifting, unspoken, race-based caste pyramid” persisting through generations. The parallels between caste and race are palpable throughout the book, though, Wilkerson writes, they “are neither synonymous nor mutually exclusive.” Unlike race, which is a mutable social concept, and class, which can shift through luck and achievement, the author makes the case for caste as a permanent fixture which can be traced to the 1619 arrival of enslaved Africans in the Virginia Colony. Prior to defining caste rankings and outlining its eight pillars, Wilkerson draws comparisons between India and the United States, referencing the treatment of Adivasi and Native Americans, Dalits and African Americans. Additionally, the book provides provocative insights into America’s influence on Nazi Germany, whose researchers carefully studied U.S. race laws. Vignettes and memoir intertwine, illuminating the book’s arguments. With easy-to-digest storytelling and elaborate metaphors embedded in extensive research, Wilkerson challenges readers to resist validating any semblance of hierarchy and to refer to history as a pathway for eradicating its stronghold.

Compelling and accessible for a younger generation energized to build a better world. (index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42794-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Small but mighty necessary reading.

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 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020


Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story.

This story, an adaptation for young people of the adult memoir The Other Wes Moore (2008), explores the lives of two young African-American men who share the same name and grew up impoverished on the same inner-city streets but wound up taking completely different paths.

Author Moore grew up with a devoted mother and extended family. After receiving poor grades and falling in with a bad crowd, his family pooled their limited finances to send him to Valley Forge Military Academy, where he found positive role models and became a Corps commander and star athlete. After earning an undergraduate degree, Wes attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. When the author read about the conviction of another Wes Moore for armed robbery and killing a police officer, he wanted to find out how two youths growing up at the same time in the same place could take such divergent paths. The author learns that the other Wes never had the extensive family support, the influential mentors or the lucky breaks he enjoyed. Unfortunately, the other Wes Moore is not introduced until over two-thirds of the way through the narrative. The story of the other Wes is heavily truncated and rushed, as is the author's conclusion, in which he argues earnestly and convincingly that young people can overcome the obstacles in their lives when they make the right choices and accept the support of caring adults.

Though awkward, this adaptation still makes for a hopeful and inspiring story. (Memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74167-5

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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