Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan
|Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Think of a current feminist issue facing young women and it will be covered in this high school story fronted by two fabulous female characters. Sometimes a little didactic but often a lot inspirational.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: February 2019|
|External links: Author's website|
Jasmine and Chelsea go to a high school with an excellent reputation. It places strong emphasis on extra curricular activities and all pupils are encouraged to join clubs and associations. But Jasmine is fed up with her drama group because she's always typecast in the loud, "hysterical" roles (Jasmine is black and resents the angry black woman trope). And Chelsea is fed with poetry club because the only poetry it ever covers was written by men who lived and died years ago. So, along with friends Isaac and Nadine, they start a new group called Write Like a Girl. All four are creative in different ways and they use the group to explore their various talents with poems and artwork and more. Their blog is initially a hit but then faces a backlash and the risk-averse principal shuts it down.
But Jasmine and Chelsea aren't having that! We follow them as they fight back against the principal and their detractors, and also against their own personal problems. Neither is easy and for Jasmine, in particular, whose father is terminally ill.
I thoroughly enjoyed Watch Us Rise. For young women starting to think about feminism and the position of their sex in society, it's a wonderful primer on all the issues. How is it to be a girl with a voice? What if you're overweight? What if you're black? What if online trolls try to shut you down? What if you never see yourself in the school curriculum? How do all these issues affecting you interact with each other? A huge range of issues are covered and the book makes the intersectional point well: not everything will affect every girl, but every girl needs to understand them all if every girl is to be heard. Of course, the ambition of this all-encompassing story means that sometimes subtlety gets lost and on occasion the authorial tone is a bit didactic. But it's never hectoring; just perhaps on occasion a little too earnest.
The two main characters, Jasmine and Chelsea, are fabulous. They're determined, forthright, inventive and life-affirming and, while they don't always get it right, they always try to get it right. And that's most of the battle, really, isn't it? And Watson and Hagan handle their personal battles and inner emotional lives with great sensitivity.
Watch Us Rise is an enjoyable, issue-based young adult novel - engaging, compassionate and motivational.
Renee Watson talks about the intersection of race and class in the US in the fabulous Piecing Me Together and if Watch Us Rise appeals, you would like it.
You can read more book reviews or buy Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan at Amazon.com.
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