Category: Uncategorized

As tall as the sky

I want a monument. I want a memorial on the National Mall. It will be names, like the Vietnam War Memorial, but it will be vertical. It’s base, deep set in the earth, will be 5+ million mostly unknown names of those lost at sea. And then upward it will grow, name after name, Alton, Sandra, Tamir, up and up, Michael, Trayvon, Philandro. Bones and names, blood and names, skin and names. No one should ask for permission to build this monument, just as no enslaved person acquiesced to their shackles, no murdered person begged for the fatal bullet, no loved child said yes, take my daddy from me. Even now, before it has been built, we live in its shadow. We call the shadow America. And maybe we even love it, but love is not enough. Tears are not enough. Rage and screaming and letters to legislators are not enough. Nothing will ever be enough until there are no more names to add, until parents grow old and children grow up. Until parents grow old. And children grow up.

One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia.

Recommend this to readers who love historical immersion or want realistic fiction focusing on African American protagonists. It takes place in the sixties. Three sisters are sent across country by themselves for a visit with their wayward mother. She’s not exactly thrilled to see them. Readers who like stories that feature complex family structures and imperfect parents will also like this book.

Diverse content: This story is an immersion in Black culture at a pivotal time in history. The mother in the story is an artist struggling against a patriarchal world, and we get to see the ramifications of that struggle in the lives of everyone in the story.

Study this for the immersive experience that a detailed and very specific setting provides. I read it when the weather was cold and rainy in Portland, but it takes place in summer LA and I swear I could feel the sweat from the heat. The sensory details, the emotional nuance…you are so physically there in the story world that it feels like time travel.

Good Enough

Good Enough by Paula Yoo is the story of Patti Yoon, a senior in high school juggling parents with (extremely) high expectations, a crush on a boy who’s sending (very) mixed signals, and a new awareness of how much her music–long thought to be a means to the Ivy League–truly means to her.

Recommend to readers who love gentle reads, who will enjoy the lively church setting of some of the plot. The novel is a quick read for any kid who knows all about parental pressure. The author’s note at the end indicates the novel is semi-autobiographical, and the warm tone that wraps you up in this story feels like home. Recommended for 6th grade and up.

Diverse content: The main character is Korean American. She’s is active in her church youth group, which doesn’t seem to be as common in kidlit as it is in actual life. She calls it “Korean church” to indicate the entwining of heritage and religion.

Study this for gentle humor and sly use of various literary devices — lists and recipes, schedules and test questions.