All American Boys: Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Reviewed by Social Studies Teacher Ms. Niehoff
All American Boys was woke because it looked at the issue of police brutality and the intersection of race in America. The books main characters, Rashad and Quinn, attend the same high school but come from different walks of life. On paper, they are both All American Boys but when Rashad is the victim of police brutality, they both examine just who they are and how they fit in. Quinn has to confront the white privilege he was unaware he had.
All American Boys addresses what is happening across America, Black boys are presumed guilty. White boys do not understand the privilege that they are born with and the given assumption that they are innocent until proven guilty. In this novel, the worlds of Rashad and Quinn come crashing together when they both stop at the corner store before attending the same party. Rashad is stopping for chips, Quinn is stopping for beer. However, Rashad is beaten by a police officer and was presumed guilty for stealing chips and threatening a white lady. This was far from the case. Since Rashad and Quinn attended the same school, how the community dealt with the violence plays out throughout the novel. I was heavily disappointed that many of the teachers tried to downplay the situation or not talk about it at all. Students need a place to voice their grief and frustrations and for their voices to be minimized was problematic. Of course the history teacher (you got to love history teachers!!!!!) was not afraid to confront the situation head on. Just remember, Rashad is absent again today.
Dear Martin: Nic Stone. Reviewed by CHS Class of 2020 Alum Meme Afangnibo
The book Dear Martin is "woke" because it addresses the reality of police brutality and self identity. The fact that you can be an ivy league bound student with no criminal background and still be beaten and harassed or even killed because of the color of your skin is what Justyce is trying to navigate in the book. Even with him going to this prestigious academy he is still seen as another black boy because he is from the "hood".
In the book Dear Martin, Justyce is a 17 year old Ivy league bound student just accepted into one of the top universities in the country, with no criminal record educated at a prestigious preparatory academy; is somehow mistaken for just another black boy up to no good. Justyce is harassed by a police officer is a victim of police brutality and racial profiling. In the midst of things Justyce cannot seem to understand why he of all people had become a victim. From that point on Justyce starts writing letters to Dr. Martin Luther King trying to wrap his head around the situation and understand who he is as not only an African American but also as a male and uses the teachings of Dr.King as guidance.This book address many current events such as the Black Lives Matter Movement and underage drinking. With the stress of being co-captain of the debate team with his crush , the pressure of a neighborhood gang and unknowingly racist classmates Justyce can’t seem to bring order to his already chaotic world. He is hit with multiple obstacles that shaped him and define whether his life will be in prison or the campus of an Ivy league.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Reviewed by CHS Sophomore Israel Haynes
This book is woke because it talks about equality. Also, Starr is a very likable character. They are involved with equality because in this book Starr has to make things right for her people in Garden Heights because the weren't getting treatment they deserved.
The main character in this book Is Starr Carter. Starr is stuck between two worlds because she goes to a majority white school but is black and lives in a majority black neighborhood. She has mixed personalities and has to change the way she acts in what she calls “the hood” aka Garden Heights. In this book Garden Heights can be compared to some parts of Louisville. I am talking comparing the west of Louisville to Garden Heights because that is the only thing that is easy to compare with. But, this whole review can not be about Garden Heights. So Starr was stuck between two worlds. There was a time where Starr had to fight for Garden Heights and get Khalil Justice. Starr was at a party and Starr and Khalil had heard a gunshot so they had to rush and leave the party. Then, while Starr and Khalil are driving to take Starr home a cop pulls them over and Khalil gets shot because he went to get his brush which the police officer thought was a gun. Long story short throughout the book Starr has to face many challenges and in the end she gets what she wanted all along. She wanted Justice for Khalil and that's what she got.
How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones. Reviewed by CHS Social Studies Teacher Ms. Niehoff
This memoir by Saeed Jones looks at his life growing up as a gay Black male in Texas. Saeed discusses how he was introduced to both James Byrd Jr. and Matthew Shepard when he was a pre-teen and what happened to those two men shaped how he moved through the world. He also had to deal with a grandmother he spent his summers with in Memphis who was an Evangelical christian who worked with Saeed to pray the gay away.
How We Fight for Our Lives is a book that I have been excited to read for quite some time. I follow Saeed Jones on Twitter and read a lot of the work he did for Buzzfeed news as the LGBTQ editor. When I read the book I did not realize how close to home it would hit as some events that shaped Saeed's understanding of the world also played an integral part of my understanding of the world. I am six years older than Saeed but I clearly remember the murder of James Byrd Jr. and remember seeing the levels of hate people possess in our country. As a white woman this impacted me but not nearly as much as it did for Saeed who is a black male growing up in Texas. What did shake me to the core wasthe murder of Matthew Shepard. Matthew Shepard was murdered for being gay during the first semester of college. This is the time when I was able to come to terms with my sexuality and being gay. I saw first hand what could happen to me for me simply being me. This impacted me to the core. I attended Western Kentucky University and that is where Saeed Jones went to college. It was fun to read of the experiences he had coming into his own in Bowling Green as I experienced many similarities in my time in Bowling Green. Saeed then talks about what it was like coming out to his family and how he had to deal the the passing of his mother, who was his biggest supporter. Saeed has had to fight throughout his life and it is nice to see that he has found happiness.
The Other Wes Moore, Reviewed by Ms. Niehoff
Why this book is woke: The Other Wes Moore looks at the lives of two black boys named Wes Moore from Baltimore, Maryland. The book looks at their experiences as children, teens and then young adults and what led them to their current locations, one serving a life sentence in prison and the other having a successful military career and educational career. This book looks at decisions made and how they impact you throughout life.
Review: This book immerses the reader in the lives of two young black men from Baltimore named Wes Moore. One Wes ends up and prison and the other has a successful career. What decisions and life experiences led them to this point. The book starts as both are young children and looks at how loss of a father impacts a young man and his family. It looks how moving to different locations impacts life and how families scrap together money in hope of offering a better life. It looks at how hard it is for former drug dealers to try to make on the up and up, working a 9-5 job to support a family. This book show how hard it is to keep living on the straight and narrow.
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei. Reviewed by Luz Garcia
Why this book is woke:
It is a woke book because, it was about people standing up for their rights, and supporting others' rise as well.
Review: In the book George tells about what it was like, as a child, to be in an Japans holding camp. once George and his family are released, he tells about what it was like to get back into society. then he talks about how it effected the rest of his life, how he saw this cycle repeat and how he tried to break it.
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy by Emmanuel Acho. Reviewed by Toussaint Dean.
Why this book is woke: This book talks about conversations in the Black community which effects the Black community in America. This school talks about the roots of the concentration lease program and how slavery is allowed today, but only in the prison systems. This book also tells the root behind the N-word.
Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones. Reviewed by Ms. Niehoff.
Why this book is woke: Prelude To Bruise is a collection of poetry by Saeed Jones. Themes of race and LGBTQ are found throughout as they represent the intersectionality of the author. He also writes about his experiences as a gay, Black man in Kentucky.
Review: I love poetry. You get small glimpses into other worlds, often piercing at your soul as you read. Saeed Jones has always been one of my favorite authors- I absolutely loved his memoir, and with poetry being one of my favorite genres, this book was a perfect read for me. In these poems, Saeed writes of his experiences of being a marginalized man in America. Saeed is a gay, Black man who was raised in Texas and went to college in Kentucky. Two spaces where he was always on the margin. His poems offer a glimpse of what life was like for him, growing up in a state where James Byrd was lynched. Being called the n-word frequently. Saeed's lived experiences pour off of the pages; the reader can feel his vulnerability. I highly recommend this book for all to read.
Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany Jackson, Reviewed by Mylia Knox.
Why this book is woke: It highlights the struggles Black communities face and how serious issues in the Black community are looked over. It also highlights coming of age, struggles of young Black women, neglect and abuse, and grief.
Review: The book Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D Jackson is a mystery, thriller, drama, and fiction book. The book is about two girls, Claudia and her best friend Monday. Monday was missing for almost a year and no one seemed to notice but Claudia. While she's trying to uncover the truth about her best friend being missing she finds out all the things Monday was too afraid to tell. My favorite part about the book was when Claudia went to Monday's house to find her with Monday's sister April. If you like mystery you'll love this book because there was never a dull moment.
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, Reviewed by: Rae'Anna Childress.
Why this book is woke: The book Heartstopper is "woke" because it has LGBTQ+ themes. One of the books main characters , Charlie is a openly gay and the other , Nick is questioning his sexuality. This book talks about some of the problems teenagers face with being apart of the LGBTQ+ community and the confusion that comes with trying too figure out your sexuality.
Review: Charlie is an openly gay teenager who was outed last school year and has had it rough ever since because of bullies. Nick is kind , an extrovert, and a rugby player. They meet each other in class and a friendship blooms from there. But soon Charlie falls for Nick even though he knows that nothing could ever happen because Nick is straight. I really liked this book. It was really cute and I loved how it incorporated the conflicts of being LGBTQ+ or questioning and also being able to make this book enjoyable and something you could smile about instead of taking the easy route and making being LGBTQ+ seem like it's depressing all the time. I loved Nick and Charlie's friendship and love to watch it blossom into something more overtime. Nick was really sweet and so kind. I feel like he was most people's favorite and while I did love his character I think Charlie. Charlie was high-strung, and very introverted and I really enjoyed watching him sticking up for himself at times. Overall I really enjoyed this book!
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