I received this book for free from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Radical Element by Jessica Spotswood
Published by Candlewick Press on March 13th, 2018
Genres: Anthology, Historical, YA
Source: Candlewick Press
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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 whether 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 the 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.
There was once a time when while reviewing an anthology, I would review every single story within it. I don’t do that anymore because 1. I am lazy but 2. I don’t think anyone really wants to read a review of EVERY SINGLE short story in an anthology because thats a lot to read and most people will pick an anthology up even if it has a couple mediocre short stories. Also, like, I do want to say I am definitely appreciative of the people who do review every single story and you guys are great. ANYWAY. The Radical Element is chockfull of some of the best YA writers right now and it ups the ante from A Tyranny of Petticoats. Tyranny certainly won my heart in 2016 but we still needed a lot more intersectional stories and that’s what we got in 2018.
The first couple stories didn’t really blow me away though. They had strong character arcs but almost no plot whatsoever and if you know anything about me, you know I am a plot gal. I love my characters and //want// a good character arc but if there is no plot, I am not gonna be a v. happy gal.
Fortunately, a lot of the other stories did have plot arcs and gave me exactly what I wanted. Good characters, a good story and some good times.
Top 3 Stories
Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore
I’ve only attempted to read one book by McLemore (which didn’t work out because of issues with pacing) but I NEED MORE OKAY? This short totally blew me away
When The Moonlight Wasn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton
This story explores the very real question of how to be patriotic in a country that hates you. It’s incredibly well written and has a dash of magic. Honestly, Glamour may be my favorite story but I think When the Moonlight Wasn’t Enough may be the most powerful one within this anthology and really important in this decade.
Take Me With You by Sara Farizan
Truly just a story of friendship and finding yourself in a true place. Honestly, I actually really want a full length novel with these characters. There is a larger story to be told here.
4 Hot Espressos
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