What Does Hate Look Like? by Sameea Jimenez

Reading about hate can be heavy going. To avoid getting discouraged - skip ahead. Read Chapter 5, “How Can We Move from Bystanders to Upstanders?”, Chapter 6, “Why Should We Care?” and Chapter 7, “What Does All This Mean For You?”

This book will be lots of things to lots of people. Chapter 6 succinctly expresses how this book is helpful to me. It asks, “What can you do to make positive change? You can learn about your own bias.” (Page 85). Reading this 95-page book helped me progress with that, even though it’s for kids, and I am (allegedly) a grown-up.  For example, it taught me that I have – unfortunately - perpetrated microaggressions, against friends. Oh dear! However, now I know. Empowered with a bit more knowledge, I can try to do better. 

Chapter 5 offers five ways to empower yourself against hate. It also includes examples where kids did something that made a difference. One guy relates how he came out to his school as trans and asked them to use his chosen name and pronouns. He got a standing ovation. Another kid talks about making friends with a kid who everyone bullied. They became close friends. She changed her new friend’s life. Readers can see that kids made those successes really happen. (Hooray!)

Chapter 7 provides useful, succinct, bullet point lists for “How to React to Hate” for “Victims,” “Upstanders,” and “People Who Inflict Hate.” Other engaging aspects of this book are boxes throughout, that start, “What would you do if…” These boxes offer concrete situations a reader might experience. A good example is, “What would you do if you received an email that said something racist about one of your friends?”

Largely, however, this book succeeds in answering the question in the title. As in Chapter 5, real kids describe real things that happened to them. Brave kids talk about experiences they had with hatred. Importantly they talk about how these incidents made them feel - self-hatred, anger, confusion, humiliation, embarrassment, upset, invisible, etc. Victims, “upstanders” and “people who hate” can all learn about themselves and others from this book. If we want to be part of the solution, it’s good to learn about the problem. Oh, one more thing. There are lots of inspiring quotations in this book. “No one person is born hating another… People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

Juvenile Non-Fiction pr6896283

Ravensong by Cayla Fay

There are tropes that get overused. It’s fun when an author uses one and it really, really works. Neve begins the novel as a compelling, believable, snarky, aloof loner. Everyone at her high school is afraid of her, for good reason. She is absolutely unapproachable. She literally speaks to no one.

She has a strident encounter with a “new” girl who immediately drives her up the wall. The new girl is excessively nice. She helps Neve when Neve doesn’t want help. Neve can’t stand it. Incidents ensue. The new girl gets bullied. Neve decides to stick up for her. Now Neve tolerates eating lunch in her company. The new girl makes friends with other outsiders. The friends sit with Neve and the new girl at lunch – initially in trepidation if not terror. Then they start to tease Neve. She is incensed. Their amusement grows.

Oh, I forgot, Neve’s sisters are immortal. Neve will be immortal when she turns 18 in a few months. Together, they are the Morrigan.

Back to the tough loner trope. As you expect, Neve warms up to the new girl. Neve and the new girl fall in love. What you don’t expect is that Neve – although tough and constantly in mythic battles - keeps getting the living daylights kicked out of her by immortal baddies. It’s refreshing that the strong, fearless heroine gets hurt, occasionally. Bravery is more admirable, when danger is real. The teenage banter, grudging friendships and kickass fight scenes – I LOVE swords – are great. The romance is sweet and steamy and credible.  All of that says to me that the writing is good and the character development is excellent. I hope that’s enough to pique your interest. There will be a second book. I really want to know “what happens next.”

YA Fiction pr6875012

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