Revelatory and inspiring young voices.



Young émigrés reflect candidly on family, faith, education, and their difficult journeys to becoming Americans.

United ReSisters, a group of young Somali American women living in Green Bay, Wisconsin, has become an active and important part of the social and cultural life of the predominantly white community. In a moving collection of reflections, poems, conversations, and letters, 12 forthright members of the group share their experiences escaping from Somalia’s civil war, living in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, struggling as newcomers to the United States (including first encountering cold and snow), and working to achieve their dreams for the future. Prominent among the group are the Kasim sisters—Nada, Nadifo, Nimo, Nasteho, and Najma—who arrived in the U.S. in 2014 after seven years in a refugee camp where, Najma recalled, “the food wasn’t enough for one meal a day,” and water was scarce. Still, they felt a sense of community that sustained them as they waited to emigrate. All the contributors speak to their desire for acceptance while still honoring their customs and religion; all wish Americans could be more open about understanding them rather than imposing assumptions about Africans or Muslims. Sometimes, they felt like “leftovers.” “I wanted so badly to be accepted into this new society,” confesses Hafsa Husseyn, although acceptance was sometimes a challenge. Her sister Maryam echoes other contributors by showing uncommon patience in confronting prejudice: “I am human, and you are, too,” she writes in an open letter titled “Hello Stranger.” Some Americans could not understand—or accept—their custom of wearing the head covering called hijab: “Some think I’m forced to wear hijab,” Nada Kasim writes, or believe that it reflects religious fundamentalism, neither of which is true. Other Americans do not understand fasting for Ramadan. “Fasting,” explains Nasteho Kasim, “is a way to learn patience, break bad habits, and even ease anger.” Afterwords by ReSisters’ co-facilitators underscore the young women’s commitment and courage.

Revelatory and inspiring young voices.

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7338890-0-1

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Two Shrews

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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