• Ms. Becker

Born a Crime

Author: Trevor Noah

This book was, in not so many words, AWESOME!

Trevor Noah recounts his childhood in Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood - growing up in and just after the apartheid in South Africa, being a "coloured" child where almost no one can identify the same as you, dealing with extreme poverty, his mother's want for him to become something more, an abusive step-father. Where he was seen as "white" by black folks, and "black" by white folks. Hanging out in tough areas (while living in nicer ones thanks to his mom), doing what he needed to do to survive and thrive. Abuse, trauma, violence; that was a part of his childhood. When you hear him speak on the Daily Show, you would not imagine the things he had to go through to be where he is. I highly recommend this book; it gives a perspective that is rarely seen.

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  • Ms. Becker

Dreamland Burning

By: Jennifer Latham

This is a book that has been on my to read list, as it is a Gateway Nominee for the 2019-2020 school year, but just haven’t gotten to it. I shouldn't have waited.

Dreamland Burning goes between two characters, and also two different time periods. William, a biracial (white and Native American) teen in the 1920’s, and Rowan, a biracial (African American and white) teen girl in the current time. (I purposefully put their prominent race first for emphasis). The books’ overall focus is the Tulsa Race Riots (also known as the race massacre). 

Rowan is living in an old house, and workers find a body while digging. There is no identification to the body - just a wallet with a piece of paper and coins, none past 1921.  She goes through the book attempting to solve the mystery. 

William lives in the Jim Crow era, and when he sees a black man touch a white girl in a speakeasy, a girl he’s in love with, the racist tendencies of the time show through. After Will is pushed and wrist broken, the black man runs, but is found and ultimately killed. This hits Will hard, as he never intended to have him killed.  This starts a string of events in Will’s life that changes his life and perspective. 

To be honest, I struggled at first getting into the book. The multiple viewpoint was challenging enough, but then reading about two different eras made it difficult to connect at first. But, as I read more, things started to meld, more questions and clues came about, which of course made me change my mind about the identity of the body, and the end was just wow in a good way. Definitely one to stick through to the end. 

  • Ms. Becker

Someone I Used to Know

By: Patty Blount

TW - afterwards of a sexual assault

The story flips perspectives between two teens - Ashley, a sexual assault survivor, and her brother, Derek.

Ashley was raped by a football player who was playing a scavenger hunt game played by most of the school football team. Derek was a part of that team, and also played the scavenger hunt game. Ashley deals with the aftermath of her assault, where she has become a pariah in her town, where the boy who raped her only got a two year sentence, and where her brother Derek can't understand and cope with what happened to his sister.

This book is powerful. Truly. This book is timely to the current #metoo movement, survivor guilt and shame, family aftermath, and the difficulties of the court system, where the victim is forced to prove and relive their trauma over and over. The part I really thought was good was reading about the perspective of the brother, Derek. He played the game with most of the rest of the football team, he made choices that affected Ashley's life, and he has to deal with those consequences.

This is a book that everyone should read. There is not a direct scene of rape, but there are allusions to it that may be difficult for those who have experienced trauma to read. I really believe more boys should read this, to truly understand a girl's perspective on guys, dealing with aggression and toxic masculinity.