A well-meaning but uneven collection.

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BREAK THESE RULES

35 YA AUTHORS ON SPEAKING UP, STANDING OUT, AND BEING YOURSELF

Thirty-five essays encourage young readers to break the rules.

“Be tougher, be thinner, be smarter, be sexier, be funnier, be quieter, be louder, be better dressed, be more aware of what’s cool, be better at: everything.” Young people growing up awash in electronic media and the images and lifestyles they sell are often easy victims, never realizing the extent to which they are being brainwashed. Add to that, their fellow students are conforming to the same societal expectations and preying on those who are too different. Young people are in danger, as recent suicide statistics suggest. In this collection, 35 writers encourage readers to stop obeying the voices telling them how to think, dress, act and believe. In “Don’t Get Fat,” Lisa Burstein writes about leaving behind the “warped, sick, eating-disordered” frame of mind fed by a voice that is “the mayor of crazy-town.” In “Be Clean!” Gary D. Schmidt tells of rejecting the mind control of a youth pastor trying to save his soul. The best writers here couch their lessons in stories, but others lecture, and some sound like inspirational graduation speeches. After a whole volume of such essays, the mantra “Break These Rules” itself begins to sound like a rule to question.

A well-meaning but uneven collection. (about the contributors) (Essays. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61374-784-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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

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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Necessary for every home, school, and public library.

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SHOUT

“This is the story of a girl who lost her voice and wrote herself a new one.”

The award-winning author, who is also a rape survivor, opens up in this powerful free-verse memoir, holding nothing back. Part 1 begins with her father’s lifelong struggle as a World War II veteran, her childhood and rape at 13 by a boy she liked, the resulting downward spiral, her recovery during a year as an exchange student in Denmark, and the dream that gave her Melinda, Speak’s (1999) protagonist. Part 2 takes readers through her journey as a published author and National Book Award finalist. She recalls some of the many stories she’s heard during school visits from boys and girls who survived rape and sexual abuse and calls out censorship that has prevented some speaking engagements. In Part 3, she wraps up with poems about her family roots. The verse flows like powerful music, and Anderson's narrative voice is steady and direct: “We should teach our girls / that snapping is OK, / instead of waiting / for someone else to break them.” The poems range in length from a pair of two-line stanzas to several pages. Readers new to Anderson will find this accessible. It’s a strong example of how lived experience shapes art and an important book for the #MeToo movement.

Necessary for every home, school, and public library. (resources) (Verse memoir. 13-adult)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-670-01210-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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