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In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.
To respect yourself, to love yourself, should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It’s a decision that must be faced when you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs — whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they’re asking you to join them.
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|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
First, I want to say I am a huge supporter of Girl Power. This is one of the reasons this book stood out to me. The Radical Element is twelve individual stories written by different authors. Each story is unique, but they all share one thing in common. They are stories of how girls stood up and spoke out for what they needed or wanted to do. They didn’t let anyone else control who they wanted to be. From a girl card player pretending to be a boy so she was allowed to play with her friends to a fancy girl wanting to be a nurse and another wanting to join the circus, each girl followed her dreams. My favorite story was Take Me with U because it is about a refugee who moves to America. Soheila is new and must learn a different language. She meets a group of spunky girls, and they start a band together, against her mother’s wish. When her mother comes to their rehearsal to drag her home, Soheila softly and strongly stated, “I’m not going.” Then at the concert, she pours all of her feelings into her music. I like that Soheila doesn’t just blindly follow what her mother says or hide who she is; she is honest with her mother and stays true to herself. Warning: This story includes a little bit of bad language. I give this book four stars because some stories were detailed and fun to read, but many struggled to set up the story before jumping into the action. I didn’t know enough about the characters or setting in the beginning and felt like I couldn’t follow along with the story. This book is perfect for you if you love Girl Power. I recommend this book for ages 10+ because of the language in one story and mature plots intended for teenagers. Reviewed by Bianca M., Age 8, Denver Mensa
The diversity in these stories is impressive, from girls facing internal and external religious challenges, to girls pretending to be something they’re not to make their way in a man’s world. These are tales of young women refusing to be a product of their time, yearning to be free of society’s mores. The authors refrain from a black and white picture, with a young Mormon girl questioning her religion, yet continuing to fight her community’s detractors. Secrets abound, as an orphaned girl lives life as a boy to take care of herself, and a young boy trades his secret of being a transgender with a Hispanic girl putting in tremendous effort to pass as white for Hollywood. One story had magical elements that didn’t seem to contribute to the plot, but as a whole, this book offers up a dozen girls as unintentional heroines who fought against patriarchy, misogyny, and other obstacles they intended to overcome. I was fortunate to receive a digital copy of this wonderful book through NetGalley.
My second DNF in a week. It might look like I’m unlucky in books right now, but don’t be deceived. I have been reading some really wonderful books lately and have reviews planned that I’m holding for closer to their release date. I’ve been getting a few approvals from TOR on Netgalley lately, and I’m hoping that they will make it a habit. I love them so much. I want them to be my boyfriend. Back to the business at hand. I love books by women, about women, with women, everything women. I LOVE them. So I was excited to get my hands on this anthology of short stories. At first I thought it was going to be historical fiction based on actual people, it turned out that this … was not that. It is short stories about women. An “anthology of revolution and resistance“. Resist?! To which I thought, hell yeah! Unfortunately, I found the stories to be lackluster. They were not particularly inspiring. While most were well written they lacked a spark. I grew increasingly disinterested and eventually stopped reading. I think I expected a little more fire. However, I must be in the minority because this series of books is very popular! So don’t let my glum attitude lead you astray if you’re interested. I just won’t be along for the ride. Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley
Short story collections are often more miss than hit for me, generally because they're...too short. Or they're rushed or packing too much story into too few pages. But when I saw someone mention The Radical Element on Twitter, I was intrigued. What might a YA short story collection be like? It turns out YA short stories are perfect for me. There's not a bad one in the bunch. They're self-contained and give us a glimpse into the life of a young woman who's grappling with familial, religious, or societal expectations. A few stories stood out especially. Dahlia Adler's Daughter Of The Book explores the accessibility of Jewish education to boys and girls. The main character wants to learn, she wants more than what her father and community will allow her and other girls to do. She isn't ready to get married or to start her own family. She simply wants to learn and discuss and debate the Torah the way boys and men do so she asks her friend to help. And even though he has reservations, he agrees and can see how her questions and insights help his own learning. I really felt for her and also felt glad that my education was never called into question by virtue of my gender. Mackenzi Lee's You're A Stranger Here also explored religion and gender, this time with the Mormon faith. This story had more to do with doubt and what to do when you feel like your faith is propped up on everyone else's. It also dealt with the very real persecution Mormons faced because of their beliefs that caused them to continue moving westward in search of a safe place to land. It has very real applications to what Muslims currently face in the US and we would be wise to remember this. Anne-Marie McLemore’s Glamour was simply stunning. I loved the way McLemore explored identity and the masks we wear, both literal and figurative, through Grace, a Mexican woman who passed as white in order to work toward her dream of a film career. It also examines societal ideas of beauty and peels back the veil on Hollywood to reveal the racism at work in the 1920s, which is unfortunately still at work today. I loved how the character of Sawyer factored in and where he and Grace are by the end of the story. My very favorite of the collection was Marieke Nijkamp's Better For All The World. It's an incredible story taking on eugenics with a neurodiverse character and there were just so many great moments and details. It centers around the Carrie Buck case in the Supreme Court and I don't want to say much more than that because I am so deeply amazed by how Nijkamp built the story and I want you to experience it for yourself. I wasn't familiar with the author before this but I promptly put Before I Let Go on hold at the library and I'm so excited to read more of her writing. There are author's notes at the end of each story and these added another layer of insight. I really appreciated the diversity of the characters, whether religion, race, or sexuality. While there are probably still more white characters than POC characters, this is by no means a WASPy collection. I'm so grateful to have had the chance to read it. Disclosure: I received an advance copy from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.