A thoughtful, moving story of loss and triumph.

MAISON ROUGE

MEMORIES OF A CHILDHOOD IN WAR

Congolese Canadian author and storyteller Juma presents her memoir of fleeing armed conflict as a teen in the 1990s.

Her story begins with reminiscences about happier days in her multicultural, multifaith border town of Uvira in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where an abundance of nature, feasts, friendship, and community life prevailed. Slowly, events unfold—the arrival of refugees from Burundi and Rwanda, a civil war in Congo—climaxing with a harrowing hijacking and an escape via a perilous mountain trail. Juma, her mother, and siblings eventually make it to a United Nations refugee camp in Tanzania and then to Québec. The story builds momentum while maintaining key individuals’ storylines. Neither boastfulness nor bitterness shadow Juma’s narrative as she describes her family’s comfortable prewar status and subsequent losses. In a dignified tone she narrates her personal grief—a friend taken as a child soldier, the death of her beloved father, and the bombing of her childhood home, Maison Rouge. This is no tragedy porn, however. Juma’s book serves, above all, as a reminder that refugees, though uprooted, have enduring cultural and spiritual roots. This slim volume is appealing for its rich descriptions of everyday social life and effortless weaving in of culture through the use of Baswahili words from the author’s native language and faith tradition.

A thoughtful, moving story of loss and triumph. (author’s note, introduction, map) (Memoir. 13-adult)

Pub Date: June 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-926890-30-2

Page Count: 118

Publisher: Tradewind Books

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future.

A QUEER HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

An adaptation for teens of the adult title A Queer History of the United States (2011).

Divided into thematic sections, the text filters LGBTQIA+ history through key figures in each era from the 1500s to the present. Alongside watershed moments like the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, the text brings to light less well-known people, places, and events: the 1625 free love colony of Merrymount, transgender Civil War hero Albert D.J. Cashier, and the 1951 founding of the Mattachine Society, to name a few. Throughout, the author and adapter take care to use accurate pronouns and avoid imposing contemporary terminology onto historical figures. In some cases, they quote primary sources to speculate about same-sex relationships while also reminding readers of past cultural differences in expressing strong affection between friends. Black-and-white illustrations or photos augment each chapter. Though it lacks the teen appeal and personable, conversational style of Sarah Prager’s Queer, There, and Everywhere (2017), this textbook-level survey contains a surprising amount of depth. However, the mention of transgender movements and activism—in particular, contemporary issues—runs on the slim side. Whereas chapters are devoted to over 30 ethnically diverse gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer figures, some trans pioneers such as Christine Jorgensen and Holly Woodlawn are reduced to short sidebars.

Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future. (glossary, photo credits, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5612-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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