…just not in the way you think.
…just not in the way you think.
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 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.
Nisi Shawl is a great writer, thinker and awesome person. Here is a piece by her hosted on Stories of the Imagination Fantastic:
A children’s book has superpowers.
Linda Sue Park
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.
The first part of every course at NILA takes place during the ten days of residency. For this DR, we covered two books at residency: Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina and The Living by Matt de la Peña. So we didn’t do book reviews for these two books since we basically talked about them for hours in person, which is why these notes are brief and informal.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Holy cats! Harrowing. This book won us over with its wit and soul. The title made us (well, those of us who didn’t do our research, like me, I guess) think it was going to be light and funny, but this story is about a girl getting seriously bullied. And it is an awesome book, and there are lots of laughs along the way–but this is a hard-hitting, truth-telling kind of a story. One of those books where you’re not quite the same after you read it. We loved it. ~Haley I
The Living by Matt de la Peña
This is a non-stop thrill ride. If you haven’t read it yet, that’s cool because there’s a sequel. And you will want to read it right after you finish this one. There was some discussion in class about this book as being very commercial to read for an MFA course. But that’s exactly why I think it was a brilliant choice.
This isn’t a book about what it’s like to have Mexican heritage or be Mexican American or etc. It’s a disaster adventure with both Nature and a shadowy corporate conspiracy as antagonists. Shy, the protagonist, experiences racist BS as one would in the course of daily life. Racist BS matters in the plot, but not in the afterschool-special or problem-novel way. For this reason, I think reading this book, a “plot-driven” book for which you can easily & eagerly imagine the blockbuster summer movie adaptation, was important for the course. (Also, can someone please make the movie of this book?)