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Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America

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From Amy Reed, Ellen Hopkins, Amber Smith, Sandhya Menon, and more of your favorite YA authors comes an anthology of essays that explore the diverse experiences of injustice, empowerment, and growing up female in America. This collection of twenty-one essays from major YA authors—including award-winning and bestselling writers—touches on a powerful range of topics related t From Amy Reed, Ellen Hopkins, Amber Smith, Sandhya Menon, and more of your favorite YA authors comes an anthology of essays that explore the diverse experiences of injustice, empowerment, and growing up female in America. This collection of twenty-one essays from major YA authors—including award-winning and bestselling writers—touches on a powerful range of topics related to growing up female in today’s America, and the intersection with race, religion, and ethnicity. Sure to inspire hope and solidarity to anyone who reads it, Our Stories, Our Voices belongs on every young woman’s shelf. This anthology features essays from Martha Brockenbrough, Jaye Robin Brown, Sona Charaipotra, Brandy Colbert, Somaiya Daud, Christine Day, Alexandra Duncan, Ilene Wong (I.W.) Gregorio, Maurene Goo, Ellen Hopkins, Stephanie Kuehnert, Nina LaCour, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sandhya Menon, Hannah Moskowitz, Julie Murphy, Aisha Saeed, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Amber Smith, and Tracy Walker.


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From Amy Reed, Ellen Hopkins, Amber Smith, Sandhya Menon, and more of your favorite YA authors comes an anthology of essays that explore the diverse experiences of injustice, empowerment, and growing up female in America. This collection of twenty-one essays from major YA authors—including award-winning and bestselling writers—touches on a powerful range of topics related t From Amy Reed, Ellen Hopkins, Amber Smith, Sandhya Menon, and more of your favorite YA authors comes an anthology of essays that explore the diverse experiences of injustice, empowerment, and growing up female in America. This collection of twenty-one essays from major YA authors—including award-winning and bestselling writers—touches on a powerful range of topics related to growing up female in today’s America, and the intersection with race, religion, and ethnicity. Sure to inspire hope and solidarity to anyone who reads it, Our Stories, Our Voices belongs on every young woman’s shelf. This anthology features essays from Martha Brockenbrough, Jaye Robin Brown, Sona Charaipotra, Brandy Colbert, Somaiya Daud, Christine Day, Alexandra Duncan, Ilene Wong (I.W.) Gregorio, Maurene Goo, Ellen Hopkins, Stephanie Kuehnert, Nina LaCour, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sandhya Menon, Hannah Moskowitz, Julie Murphy, Aisha Saeed, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Amber Smith, and Tracy Walker.

30 review for Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America

  1. 5 out of 5

    may ➹

    Never dismiss your own perspectives. Never question the validity of life in the margins. This anthology truly lives up to its name: It tells the important and diverse stories of women whose voices have been ignored and smothered but will not take silence anymore. These stories as a whole all have an underlying message of feminism and female strength and power, and while some authors may share the same marginalization—no two stories or messages are the same and I LOVE that. Each author had somet Never dismiss your own perspectives. Never question the validity of life in the margins. This anthology truly lives up to its name: It tells the important and diverse stories of women whose voices have been ignored and smothered but will not take silence anymore. These stories as a whole all have an underlying message of feminism and female strength and power, and while some authors may share the same marginalization—no two stories or messages are the same and I LOVE that. Each author had something new to contribute and I think they were [almost] all important. (The [almost] is for certain essays.) Reading through my highlights and notes for this anthology makes me smile and feel inspired, because this collection of essays is so empowering for any and every woman. It’s a highly intersectional anthology that celebrates the voices and stories of marginalized women, and these women build each other up and call for change. 🌹 FAVORITES (in order) || Black Girl Unbecoming • Tracy Deonn Walker || What I’ve Learned About Silence • Amber Smith || Trumps and Trunchbulls • Alexandra Duncan || Tiny Battles • Maurene Goo || Unexpected Pursuits: Embracing My Creativity, Indigeneity & Creativity • Christine Day || Fat and Loud • Julie Murphy Almost all of the essays in this collection are amazing, but these were my absolute favorites. I 100% recommend you read these pieces, if you read nothing else in this anthology. 🌷 HIGHLIGHTS I was going to do mini reviews for each essay, but 1) I really don’t have any experience in reviewing nonfiction, and 2) there were… 21 essays and it would be too much for me to write mini reviews for 21 pieces. So I’ll just be talking about the ones that stood out to me and listing my individual ratings for all the essays (without a review). To go in order of the anthology, Anna-Marie McLemore’s piece was unfortunately one I didn’t much enjoy. It’s about how she, a brown woman, thought she wasn’t worthy of God, and I find that an important narrative to tell, but sadly (because of personal history), it focused too much on Christianity for me. I think it’s a story necessary to tell, but not for me personally. Christine Day’s essay about finding her creativity and getting in touch with her indigenous identity was one I can connect a lot to. I’m not indigenous, but I relate so much to writing being a form of expression to connect to your identity. And since we literally do not get any indigenous voices in literature, this essay is especially important. I also completely loved Alexandra Duncan’s piece. It was just... extremely well-written, and I feel like it will be a really cathartic read for abuse survivors. Her discussion of gaslighting (from a perspective of someone who had been gaslighted) and how ingrained it was in society against women was something I’d never read before and I found it highly important. Maurene Goo’s essay about her experiences with being Asian-American was something I related to so much, and I am forever glad that that piece was included in this anthology. There were things I’d internalized for so long that were addressed in this piece, and seeing that something I’d experienced was not something I’d experienced alone meant a lot to me. Another essay I really loved was Julie Murphy’s piece on being fat. Her discussion of how she had to be political whether she wanted to or not because of her body was something I think is really important, and she also had a lot of other perspectives on fatness that I found highly significant. And I really appreciate how she highlighted how she was much more privileged as a white woman versus a woman of color, despite not being privileged in other areas. There were some more essays I didn’t enjoy, however. Hannah Moskowitz’s piece was just one I didn’t get, and while I know that the importance of a piece does not depend on whether or not I, personally, get it—I didn’t really understand at all what she was trying to say? What message she was trying to get across? And what relevance it had to this specific topic? It was weird. I don’t know. I don’t want to say her experience isn’t important (because, hello, dismissive and dehumanizing) but I just was confused. A lot. Then, there was a just disgusting essay by Ellen Hopkins, who has really proved herself not to be much of a[n intersectional] feminist. Her piece was all about how she accidentally became an activist after seeing how her parents treated marginalized people and realizing her privilege. Congrats, you saw marginalized people suffer and it accidentally turned you into an activist, when marginalized people have had to advocate for themselves because of their mere existence as a marginalized person, while you had privilege problems. (Can you tell I’m annoyed.) I mean, here is an abled, white allocishet woman who is not marginalized in any way, taking up a place that could have been for a trans writer. But I mean, those abled allocishet white women will always be taking up spaces for marginalized people, I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ And finally, I just didn’t understand what the message was with Martha Brockenbrough’s piece. Like, her piece is titled “Not Like the Other Girls”, and even after having read it, I’m still not quite sure whether or not that was supposed to be ironic? I was just very confused with this essay and did not get what she was trying to say at all. Luckily, after those few essays that I unfortunately did not like, there were two that were just absolutely amazing. The first is Amber Smith’s piece, and god, it was just so well-written and powerful and touching. It’s a story about sexual assault, but I know it will resonate with more than just sexual assault survivors. It was just. amazing. I can’t describe it in any other way. And the second essay was Tracy Deonn Walker’s, which was about the expectations put upon her as a black girl and how art helped her fight back, and it was just... amazing. It was my favorite of the whole anthology, and I think it’s just an extremely well-written, inspiring, powerful, and highly important story. I am so glad it was included in this anthology and I cannot wait to read more of Walker’s work. 🌷 SOME COMPLAINTS I would have liked to have seen even MORE marginalized authors? There were a lot of authors of color, which I appreciate, but there were only a few queer ones. I think the experiences of queer women of color are extremely important and I would have liked to see more queer authors of color. There was also a lack of trans writers, which Amy Reed acknowledged in her foreword, but acknowledging a problem doesn’t solve it. Trans voices and trans stories are extremely important and I really really wish at least one trans author had been included in this anthology. There were a few other small things that I didn’t like (saying “American Indian” instead of “Native American” [it was like... trying to do word play with “Indian-American and American Indian” which is. not cool in a lot of ways], and a bi author describing her relationship with a man as “hetero” [bi women can define their relationships how they like but it just, to me, reinforces the idea of gay vs. straight relationships with multi-gender-attracted people]), but the second worst thing after the lack of trans writers was the inclusion of a completely non-marginalized author whose story was about accidentally becoming an activist, which was an accident because she was... privileged. I know I already talked about this but I’m pretty sure we all would rather read about a trans woman’s experience than a white abled allocishet woman’s. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Honestly, skip this essay and spare yourself the pain of having to read an essay wanting you to feel bad for a woman realizing how wrong she was to not be an activist before she saw marginalized people suffering. Luckily, those are pretty much the only complaints I had. I really, really loved this anthology and so many of these stories resonated with me. Reading just a few quotes that I highlighted makes me feel empowered, and I think that says a lot about this collection. Please, if you can, read it, support these [mostly] marginalized authors, and be an intersectional feminist unafraid to make change happen. 🌹 RATINGS 🌷 My Immigrant American Dream by Sandhya Menon • ★★★★☆.5 🌹 Her Hair Was Not of Gold by Anna-Marie McLemore • ★★★☆☆ 🌷 Finding My Feminism by Amy Reed • ★★★★☆ 🌹 Unexpected Pursuits: Embracing My Indigeneity & Creativity by Christine Day • ★★★★☆.5 🌷 Chilled Monkey Brains by Sona Charaipotra • ★★★★☆ 🌹 Roar by Jaye Robin Brown • ★★★★☆ 🌷 Easter Offering by Brandy Colbert • ★★★★☆ 🌹 Trumps and Trunchbulls by Alexandra Duncan • ★★★★★ 🌷 Tiny Battles by Maurene Goo • ★★★★★ 🌹 These Words Are Mine by Stephanie Kuehnert • ★★★★☆ 🌷 Fat and Loud by Julie Murphy • ★★★★☆.5 🌹 Myth Making: In the Wake of Hardship by Somaiya Daud • ★★★☆☆.5 🌷 Changing Constellations by Nina LaCour • ★★★★☆ 🌹 The One Who Defines Me by Aisha Saeed • ★★★★☆ 🌷 In Our Genes by Hannah Moskowitz • ★★☆☆☆.5 🌹 An Accidental Activist by Ellen Hopkins • ★☆☆☆☆ 🌷 Dreams Deferred and Other Explosions by Ilene (IW) Gregorio • ★★★★☆.5 🌹 Not Like the Other Girls by Martha Brockenbrough • ★★☆☆☆ 🌷 Is There Something Bothering You? by Jenny Torres Sanchez • ★★★☆☆.5 🌹 What I’ve Learned About Silence by Amber Smith • ★★★★★ 🌷 Black Girl, Becoming by Tracy Deonn Walker • ★★★★★

  2. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    This anthology is a tough one for me to rate. If I were reviewing it based solely on the nature of the work—this book about intersectional feminism, equality and equity, and fighting back against a society that perpetuates things like treating women and nonbinary people as less than men (and women/nonbinary people from marginalized communities as lesser, still)—it would be a 5-star read, with no hesitation. We are living in a cultural battleground where, for many of us, our very identities seem This anthology is a tough one for me to rate. If I were reviewing it based solely on the nature of the work—this book about intersectional feminism, equality and equity, and fighting back against a society that perpetuates things like treating women and nonbinary people as less than men (and women/nonbinary people from marginalized communities as lesser, still)—it would be a 5-star read, with no hesitation. We are living in a cultural battleground where, for many of us, our very identities seem to be under attack. Unfortunately, the execution of the collection leaves a bit to be desired, and if I were rating it exclusively on my enjoyment, it would be 3-star worthy (hence my compromise at 4 stars in the end). One of the problems that I found was that, frankly, the collection feels repetitive by the end of it. If I’d read one essay a day, maybe this wouldn’t have been an issue, but as it stands, I read this in two days, and was feeling by the end as though I was rereading earlier pieces. These boys and men are ghosts. None of them have edges. They bleed into one another. They are the same. My enjoyment for the collection as a whole dropped in the final third, where we had one story in particular from an author who has already proven herself not to be an intersectional ally of people of color, yet spent far too many pages explaining her privileged upbringing and humble-bragging about what a great activist she considers herself to be. It felt like a bold, unintentional reminder of why allocishet white women need to stop being what this society accepts as “the face of feminism”. He was always blond. Except, somehow, when He was on the cross. Only in the moment of His deepest suffering did artists consider He might have walked this earth as a dark-haired, brown-skinned man. Of course, there were some real gems in the collection, like Anna-Marie McLemore’s; I always love the way she has with words, and her descriptions of how difficult it was to grow up religious in a world where her deity was whitewashed by the masses was incredibly insightful to me, as a white former Christian who never had to deal with those devastating thoughts as a child. I was also particularly fond of Sandhya Menon’s bit on immigrating from India, Julie Murphy’s story that managed to weave fat rep and recognizing that her privileges as a white woman still protected her despite her size, and Amy Reed’s devastating recounting of sexual assault. All in all, while this was certainly not the best nonfiction anthology I’ve read, it’s still definitely worth a read (though you can probably skip Ellen Hopkins’ story with no harm done, to be fair). Especially if you are a person who sits in a great place of privilege, the greatest thing about this collection—and the reason I am still giving it 4 stars—is that I do think it has a great deal to offer in the ways of encouraging intersectionality, which is something we can never have too much of. All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Simon Pulse for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review! You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alice-Elizabeth (marriedtobooks)

    Read as part of Riveted Lit's 25 Days of December promotion! I've tried writing a review for this but honestly, I'm very moved by this collection of essays that my thoughts currently aren't processing straight. It was a powerful read and I applaud the authors featured for coming forward and sharing their stories. It's not easy to talk about experiences that haunt you still. I lost my best friend to cancer eight years ago and it's still quite raw for me. I feel inspired, encouraged and strongly ur Read as part of Riveted Lit's 25 Days of December promotion! I've tried writing a review for this but honestly, I'm very moved by this collection of essays that my thoughts currently aren't processing straight. It was a powerful read and I applaud the authors featured for coming forward and sharing their stories. It's not easy to talk about experiences that haunt you still. I lost my best friend to cancer eight years ago and it's still quite raw for me. I feel inspired, encouraged and strongly urge all of you to give this collection a read. Go on. Read!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)

    "Ours are the marginalized voices they refuse to listen to. This book, this act of resistance, says our stories matter. Our lives matter. Our voices will not be silenced." This anthology review is going to be a little different than my other ones because it’s nonfiction stories, and it feel weird reviewing and rating each story individually when it’s someone’s personal experiences. I’ve been looking forward to this anthology since I read The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed last year and I discovere "Ours are the marginalized voices they refuse to listen to. This book, this act of resistance, says our stories matter. Our lives matter. Our voices will not be silenced." This anthology review is going to be a little different than my other ones because it’s nonfiction stories, and it feel weird reviewing and rating each story individually when it’s someone’s personal experiences. I’ve been looking forward to this anthology since I read The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed last year and I discovered that she was editing an anthology about race, religion, activism, feminism, and the female experience. I found many of the stories to be captivating and raw. Some of my favorites in the collection was “My American Dream” by Sandhya Menon celebrating everything that makes you who you are. “Finding My Feminism” by Amy Reed who shared a moving condemnation of rape culture and what being an activist means to her. “Tiny Battles” by Maureen Goo detailed the “tiny battles” that makes up your life’s journey and the powerful motivator anger can be. “Myth Making: In the Wake of Hardship” by Somaiya Daud discussed the complexities of intersecting identities. These stories all felt incredibly personal, while also universal - which I think is the highest praise I can give this anthology. Overall, I really did enjoy this anthology. Now it can start to make you emotional, I drifted between sadness and anger a lot, but it does pull you in. And this was really one of my first experiences with nonfiction, but I was invested because it was stories from authors I love or subject matter that I value. Our Stories, Our Voices is a powerhouse collection of truths that need to be shared from an incredibly diverse range of YA authors that allows their voices to shine in an uncertain time. I received a copy of the book from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    ellie

    good intentions but mediocre executions. review to come. (also, mediocre executions is a sick band name)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paige (Illegal in 3 Countries)

    See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I got from the publisher via Edelweiss. It is a truth universally acknowledged that being a woman in the United States kinda sucks, especially if you’re a woman of color or queer or disabled or otherwise marginalized. It sucks to different degrees for different people; a cishet white woman and a queer black woman will face very different problems and bigotry in life. Amy Reed brings together a chorus of diverse voices in this anthology, See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten! My copy was an ARC I got from the publisher via Edelweiss. It is a truth universally acknowledged that being a woman in the United States kinda sucks, especially if you’re a woman of color or queer or disabled or otherwise marginalized. It sucks to different degrees for different people; a cishet white woman and a queer black woman will face very different problems and bigotry in life. Amy Reed brings together a chorus of diverse voices in this anthology, but one particular voice takes up a conspicious amount of space and the voices of trans people aren’t heard at all. Though the contributors tell varying stories–Stephanie Kuehnert explores all the ways she’d been told she and her body didn’t matter as a young woman; Sona Charaipotra talk of, among other things, how the pitiful representation of Indian people affected her as she grew up–many of the essays share a common thread: Donald Trump and his election as president. Seeing that happen mere weeks after the Access Hollywood tape full of his misogyny came out expressed millions’ implicit-but-nearly-explicit approval of how he devalued women the way so many men do. Their experiences are anecdotes from a country with sexism so entwined with its DNA that it almost wasn’t a surprise that he won. What he said on the tape as well as on the national stage throughout his campaign is what these women faced in their schools, their hometowns, and even their own homes. Even in the brief time between his election and his inauguration (a number of essays include the author saying they’re finishing up while watching the latter event), authors of color like Aisha Saeed mention experiencing more overt racism. A fellow author told Saeed and her husband that she could speak to the two any way she wanted because Trump was now president. Really, this could turn into a list of each essay and the various ways they’ll hit you right in the gut. Each one is powerful. When it’s an author of color writing, they make clear to the reader what it’s like to face bigotry on multiple fronts at the same time, like homophobia paired with sexism and racism. All except one essay that comes from such a disgusting place of privilege that it shouldn’t be in this anthology at all: the one written by Ellen Hopkins. Her contribution, titled “The Accidental Activist,” is largely her talking about how she got into “accidental activism,” which she achieved by watching marginalized people suffer. It’s horrifically out of place in a book full of direct, visceral, and intersectional experiences with bigotry. Plus she’s currently working on that Sanctuary Highway book, which boils down to this white woman profiting off black pain via a modern spin on the Underground Railroad. Her essay’s presence is an insult to everyone else involved, especially the black women who contributed to the book. Another glaring blind spot in the anthology: there are no trans writers whatsoever. Reed acknowledges this at the beginning of the book, but recognizing it doesn’t make it okay. Whether their story is of being erroneously considered a girl or woman by society or of knowing they’re female when everyone else thinks otherwise, there are so many valid, complicated experiences being ignored by their omission from the anthology. Our Stories, Our Voices has serious value for girls growing up in the Trump administration, so I can’t wholly say they should skip it because of Ellen Hopkins or the omission of trans writers. Instead, keep those things in mind and be prepared to understand all the ways these writers experienced bigotry long before Trump began his campaign for the presidency. Good reading for a teen who’s looking to understand intersectional oppression.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. Europaea

    Raw. Real. Revolutionary. From the first time Mother who found her radical roots with the birth of her daughter, to the immigrant that claimed her independence that challenged her Indian roots, to the accidental activist that after learning what white privilege was, learned how to use it help the marginalized- the collection of women featured in this new release share their stories and ignite a fire to change the world. The diverse voices in this collection are representative of what America is s Raw. Real. Revolutionary. From the first time Mother who found her radical roots with the birth of her daughter, to the immigrant that claimed her independence that challenged her Indian roots, to the accidental activist that after learning what white privilege was, learned how to use it help the marginalized- the collection of women featured in this new release share their stories and ignite a fire to change the world. The diverse voices in this collection are representative of what America is supposed to stand for, as well as a sad reminder of how often our Nation has failed so many marginalized groups. Reed has found that through telling our stories we can resist the white male patriarchy, claim our own power, and change the future for generations to come.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    An outstanding collection of essays about feminism, about activism, and about growing up being female in the US. The voices here are authentic, showcasing not only feelings and experiences, but the ways in which these women have chosen activism that works for them. Standouts in this collection include Brandy Colbert's essay about learning the racist history that changed her home town from one with a larger black population to one where she was one of few black people in her school, Maurene Goo's An outstanding collection of essays about feminism, about activism, and about growing up being female in the US. The voices here are authentic, showcasing not only feelings and experiences, but the ways in which these women have chosen activism that works for them. Standouts in this collection include Brandy Colbert's essay about learning the racist history that changed her home town from one with a larger black population to one where she was one of few black people in her school, Maurene Goo's piece about the way she uses her anger to fuel her, Julie Murphy's essay about why being fat meant she was political whether she chose to act on it or not, and the piece that closes this book by a new author, Tracy Deonn Walker, about the way other people put expectations on her as a black girl and how she uses art to fight back. Not all of the essays will resonate with all readers, but that's the greatness of an anthology. Some pieces didn't do much for me, but I also know they'll work for other readers. There is one glaring omission in the collection worth noting: there are no voices of trans women here. We have acknowledgement of trans women throughout, but, it is disappointing not to see their voices in here alongside these other women. Anna-Marie McLemore talks about her husband, who is trans, but it's still not a specific experience of being a trans woman. Pass this along to readers who want a book about the current political climate -- most talk about the election (which, admittedly, gets tiring after a while, but if you don't read this in a single sitting, will not grow as tiring) -- and a book about being a girl in modern America. These women span all backgrounds, ethnicities, races, sexualities, and religions, and those intersections are emphasized. For readers who enjoy my own HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD, this would pair really nicely with it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    belle jane

    really good!!! except for Ellen Hopkins' essay. I found that one bad and offensive honestly. but otherwise I really enjoyed it!!!!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Girardin

    Haunting An incredible collection of well-curated, powerful, and beautiful essays that hung with me after the book was closed. Each chapter was a new and eye-opening look into a life experience that I have not and cannot experience, and I am grateful for every one of them.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Thanks to Riveted I have access to this anthology for 24 hours. Since I can't finish all of the short stories, I will tell you what I read and what I liked. ❤ = Really Liked. ❤❤ = Loved "Finding my Feminism" by Amy Reed - ❤ "Fat and Loud" by Julie Murphy "Unexpected Pursuits: Embracing my Indigeneity and Creativity" by Christine Day "Chilled Monkey Brains" by Sona Charaipotra - ❤❤ "Myth Making" by Somaiya Daud - ❤ "Black Girl, Becoming" by Tracy Deonn Walker - ❤❤ But the older I got, the more the Thanks to Riveted I have access to this anthology for 24 hours. Since I can't finish all of the short stories, I will tell you what I read and what I liked. ❤ = Really Liked. ❤❤ = Loved "Finding my Feminism" by Amy Reed - ❤ "Fat and Loud" by Julie Murphy "Unexpected Pursuits: Embracing my Indigeneity and Creativity" by Christine Day "Chilled Monkey Brains" by Sona Charaipotra - ❤❤ "Myth Making" by Somaiya Daud - ❤ "Black Girl, Becoming" by Tracy Deonn Walker - ❤❤ But the older I got, the more the lines blurred, the more I realized there's not really a hierarchy of identity but a strange constellation within myself." - Somaiya Daud I know now that I am not responsible for living within the limited imaginations of others, nor am I insufficient because they cannot full conceive of me. I know this because art once whispered, then yelled, then roared through me that it is the world that might be ill and that I am becoming whole." - Tracy Deonn Walker THIS BOOK NEEDS TO BE AN OPTIONAL READ IN CLASSROOMS.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Grace P. (gracefulreads)

    Every essay in this anthology stood alone as an enthralling and thought-provoking personal essay. As a collection of twenty-one stories, there is a little bit of everything and for every reader. It is very telling that every author wanted their story heard, and OUR STORIES, OUR VOICES gives the microphone to everyone. There was not a single essay that was not captivating, and every piece takes on present-day America from a different angle. A typical YA anthology is several short stories connecte Every essay in this anthology stood alone as an enthralling and thought-provoking personal essay. As a collection of twenty-one stories, there is a little bit of everything and for every reader. It is very telling that every author wanted their story heard, and OUR STORIES, OUR VOICES gives the microphone to everyone. There was not a single essay that was not captivating, and every piece takes on present-day America from a different angle. A typical YA anthology is several short stories connected by a common theme, but OUR STORIES, OUR VOICES was different and the only nonfiction YA anthology that I have ever read. Not only does it include the real lives of authors whose works I know and love, but it opened me up to just as many more whose books I am now reaching for to read. Two of the short stories even came from authors who are not yet published, and theirs ended up being some of my favorites. All 21 authors had a significant piece in crafting this compelling read that ultimately has made me see YA in a new light. Because it is written with current events and politics in mind, it is incredibly relevant to present conversations and will continue to be. Additionally, every author approached their essay differently with what they chose to include and naturally, they all experience life differently. One of my favorite chapters was “Unexpected Pursuits: Embracing My Indigeneity & Creativity” by Christine Day, who is not yet a published author but had one of the most interesting stories to tell. Some others like “Fat and Loud” by Julie Murphy, “The One Who Defines Me” by Aisha Saeed, and “Dreams Deferred and Other Explosions” by I.W. Gregorio were written by authors whose books I had read, and it honestly did make me see their work in a different light. Now when I read any of these other authors records, I am going to understand better their writing style and inspiration. Readers who love anthologies of any sort will enjoy OUR STORIES, OUR VOICES. Those interested in politics and current events, as well as young adult fans, will appreciate all that this anthology is. It is the perfect read for anyone needing inspiration or looking for fresh viewpoints from some favorite YA authors.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liz Overberg

    I don't want to give this anthology a rating, because how could I judge these women's truths? Twenty-something women of various ages, races, and experiences write about their stories of being their own particular brand of female in America. Most, but not all, of the writers are published young adult authors. Each essay reads like a love letter to today's teen girls. There is anger, regret, pride, sass, and wisdom. Every teenage girl could find something here that speaks to her.

  14. 5 out of 5

    dearlittledeer

    Good essays but I don't think I would reread many of them. I think I liked the one by the previously unpublished writer the best. Many authors focusing on how it felt after Trump was elected got a little repetitive and I feel like makes it more dated. Unsure of how many teens would really be drawn to reading this, but I think it would be great reading for a high school class.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Savannah

    This anthology is an inspiring and harrowing look into what it is like to grow up in the United States over the past few decades. It is so important to not dismiss feelings or opinions and this book provided me with many experiences that I have experienced but even more that I will never experience as a white female. I highly recommend this anthology.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shauna Yusko

    These are true stories framed as essays or letters to today’s teen girls from (mostly published) YA authors. A good collection. I think it’s weird to give it a rating since these are very personal stories.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

    meh

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    A powerfully moving, well written anthology that deals with difficult subjects and does not shy away from them.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leila Jaafari

    Women talking about what it means to be a woman in America.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alison Morquecho

    Man this book had me emotional in almost every story. I cried way too much. I enjoyed this book and all these authors And their stories. I’m sooo glad that I read it!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    While I didn't find all the stories to be perfect, this is such a cohesive collection and I cannot wait to introduce it to everyone.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Our experiences matter. Our voices matter. And the deafening silence that protects those who have violated us must be broken. (131) This anthology is such an important gathering of voices and I'm so glad that it exists. It isn't perfect by any means, and some of the essays are better written than others. But this book is about empowering women to speak up about their own experiences, and no one's experience is inconsequential. What might not speak to one person might be crucial representation for Our experiences matter. Our voices matter. And the deafening silence that protects those who have violated us must be broken. (131) This anthology is such an important gathering of voices and I'm so glad that it exists. It isn't perfect by any means, and some of the essays are better written than others. But this book is about empowering women to speak up about their own experiences, and no one's experience is inconsequential. What might not speak to one person might be crucial representation for someone else. Amy Reed did an excellent job of gathering ethnically, religiously, and sexually diverse writers. Never dismiss your own perspectives. Never question the validity of life in the margins. (50) Some quick improvements to Our Stories, Our Voices would have been inclusion of trans and nonbinary voices, which the editor Amy Reed acknowledges in her introduction. Acknowledging it doesn't fix the problem, however. I also question the inclusion of one of the essays in particular, which was by a big name but non-marginalized author (with a questionable history of representing diverse experiences) which was simply not well-written besides. Having this essay swapped with one written by a non-cis author would have gone a long ways towards perfecting this collection. I also wish so many of these essays didn't focus on Trump's election specifically-- not that this isn't an timely topic, but it will date the book and it also gives off the impression that the current administration is causing a lot of America's current troubles, rather than being a symptom of the larger, ongoing problems. Most of my favorite essays were about more encompassing issues and barely mentioned Trump, if at all. These boys are a symptom of a much bigger problem, of a society that does not teach its boys to truly understand what consent is. [...]I forgive those boys now, so many years later. But I do not forgive the society that created them. (29) Speaking of, my favorite essays from this collection were (roughly in order): ➼ "Myth Making: In the Wake of Hardship" by Somaiya Daud, about seeking and creating non-white representation in fantasy literature, about Islamophobia in the wake of 9/11, about the varied and overlapping and contradictory mess of identities inside us all, and about having hope for the future rather than longing for nostalgic "greater times" past. ➼ "Unexpected Pursuits: Embracing My Idigeneity & Creativity" by Christine Day, about pursuing passions rather than expectations and connecting to Native heritage. ➼ "In Our Genes" by Hannah Moskowitz, about standing on the shoulders of past activists, learning to be better than our foremothers, and teaching the next generation to better than us. ➼ "Trumps and Trunchbulls" by Alexandra Duncan, about gaslighting and the invisible invalidations women face in (Christian) American culture. ➼ "Dreams Deferred and Other Explosions" by Ilene Wong (I.W.) Gregorio, about racism, subverting stereotypes, and what living as a "model minority" in America is like. ➼ "What I've Learned About Silence" by Amber Smith, about how abuse and shame thrive in silence, and about "victim" being just as important and relevant a term as "survivor." ➼ "Fat and Loud" by Julie Murphy, about politics being forcibly thrust upon her by virtue of merely existing in her body, and about the limitations we place on what fat girls are allowed to be/do/feel. ➼ "Finding My Feminism" by Amy Reed, about the fact that coercion isn't consent, about victim-blaming and the way rape culture thrives in silence. [O]ne thing I have learned beyond all doubt is that silence is the driving force behind ... so much of the pain and ugliness and disconnection in our world today. And this is no accident. This happens specifically because our voices are the most powerful thing we have, and that is why others will immediately and frantically try to take our voices away by any means possible. [...]Change happens when we speak up and when we listen, when we have empathy and compassion, when we stand up and empower ourselves and others. (268-9) These essays are brave, and raw, and personal, and political. They break the cone of silence around certain topics that keep these experiences shrouded in secrecy and shame. They speak truth about the lives of marginalized people who are often presented as caricatures if they're represented at all. In short, while not a perfect collection, Our Stories, Our Voices is nonetheless an extremely important one. No single one of us is going to save the world. But all of us might. (101)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ha

    4.5/5 stars My Immigrant American Dream by Sandha Menon  I quite enjoyed this piece as I am also a first generation immigrant, I could resonate with the author. I completely agree with her quote "I'd been taught to always respect my elders, to never disagree, to accept what I was told. But adults, I was quickly learning, could be judgemental and cruel, prejudiced and bigtoed. Adults did not automatically get a pass anymore. I had the right to question them." as well as "There is no one way to be 4.5/5 stars My Immigrant American Dream by Sandha Menon  I quite enjoyed this piece as I am also a first generation immigrant, I could resonate with the author. I completely agree with her quote "I'd been taught to always respect my elders, to never disagree, to accept what I was told. But adults, I was quickly learning, could be judgemental and cruel, prejudiced and bigtoed. Adults did not automatically get a pass anymore. I had the right to question them." as well as "There is no one way to be American. There is no one language, no one color, no one accent, no one religion. We are a country of multitudes; we should be proud to remain that way." A million time YES!   3/5 stars Her Hair Was Not of Gold by Anna-Marie McLemore  (view spoiler)[The focus of this is how the Virgin Mary and Jesus is normally portrayed and how the author realizes it and learns more about the whitewashing of the religion in a way. I can not relate as much, but it was an interesting read. (hide spoiler)] 4/5 stars Finding My Feminism by Amy Reed Survivor story. Powerful. This is the story of her journey as a feminist, how she felt fake and that she was not one of the survivors, and the spark within her to be that support for other women now through her writing. 4.5/5 stars Unexpected Pursuits: Embracing My Dignity & Creativity by Christine Day An indigenous author's story about her life in school, erasure of her culture, finding her voice & passion, and the continuous journey she is taking.  4/5 stars Chilled Monkey Brains by Sona Charaipotra    Discusses the importance of own voices writing and how much representations really matter to us POC. This mentions the spark of this movement and the hope that it will become the norm. 4/5 stars Roar by Jaye Robin Brown Important piece about finding and accepting oneself. 4.5/5 stars Easter Offering by Brandy Colbert Talks about our whitewashed history and how racists the suffragists were. I now know that the quote "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired" came from Fannie Lou Hamer, a black woman civil rights activist who focused on voting rights for Southern Black people. How cool is she? Yet, it is unfortunate that I never heard of her until now. Powerful and empowering piece.  4.5/5 stars Trumps and Trunchbulls by Alexandra Duncan Very important essay that thoroughly describes gaslighting with examples. I also enjoyed the empowering way it ended. 4/5 stars Tiny Battles by Maurene Goo Piece by a Korean-American woman whom I can relate to because I've gone through some similar things she has gone through. I really liked that she said "Rage has empowered me, and I give you permission to let it empower you." 4/5 stars These Words are Mine by Stephanie Kuehnert This is a supportive piece to all survivors that can validate their experience. A strong message that you are not alone. 3/5 stars Fat and Loud by Julie Murphy A piece on someone learning to be an ally. I appreciate that she acknowledged her privilege. 3.5/5 stars Myth Making: In the Wake of Hardship by Somaiya Daud This piece felt like a letter to future writers. 3.5/5 stars Changing Constellation by Nina LaCour This piece focused on a friend whovleft and what the author felt she could have done and what she learned from that friend. A thank you note for being their unapologetic self wherever they may be. 3.5/5 stars The One Who Defines Me by Aisha Saeed It frustrates me to hear about how blatantly racists these teachers can be. They make such a big impact on their students whether negative or positive. I can relate to the not burdening my immigrant parents with racist things that happened to me in school. It took me a long time to actually talk to peers about it (college). 3/5 stars Our Genes by Hannah Moskowitz I haven't got much to say about this one except we can learn from racist upbringing.  3/5 stars An Accidential Activist by Ellen Hopkins Message to keep active and staying informed.  4/5 stars Dreams Deferred and Other Explosions by Ilene (I.W.) Gregorio Yes! I love her end piece regarding smashing the model minority because that is exactly what I plan on doing.  3/5 stars Not Like The Other Girls by Martha Brockenbrough Wow. Second grader. Men are sick. So many different memories regarding similar things happened to this author and it twists my stomach how hard she tries to be like a boy to try to level out the playing field.  4/5 stars Is Something Bothering You? by Jenny Torres Sanchez Wow. A recalling of the time in her childhood where her father was terrorized and chased down by KKK members just because he answered someone's question back in Spanish. Chilling account of the fear after the event & then after the 2016 result were announced. But ends with hope. 3/5 stars What I've Learned About Slience by Amber Smith Literally the title of this essay. How slience fester and finding strength and a voice. 4/5 stars Black Girl, Becoming by Tracy Deonn Walker  Denying ones identity due to micro aggression and the process of expressing oneself freely. Lovely.  Overall this was a phenomenal anthology filled will so many voices, experiences, and encouragement. It was reassuring to hear the shared nightmare November 8, 2016 was to a handful of these women as I felt completely hopeless that day and cried because I felt our America was crumbling down (granted it was not amazing for all in the first place, but we weren't regressing as much as we are now) the blatant racism and overall hate is flooding our America. However, what is emerging from this is a new sea of hope from people who are just tired of being slienced. This gives me hope.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Short stories about rape/sexual abuse, discrimination, and other injustices - especially/notably authors wanting to speak out since 45 took office. Very powerful stories, some more graphic than others. From a wide variety of voices with an apology from the editor that there was not a trans contributor. An important collection, but it is *so* hard to sell story collections to students. (does that diminish it's importance? Some stories more meaningful. At least one story was also included in the " Short stories about rape/sexual abuse, discrimination, and other injustices - especially/notably authors wanting to speak out since 45 took office. Very powerful stories, some more graphic than others. From a wide variety of voices with an apology from the editor that there was not a trans contributor. An important collection, but it is *so* hard to sell story collections to students. (does that diminish it's importance? Some stories more meaningful. At least one story was also included in the "hope" collection.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    I've read this book two weeks ago, so I don't really remember much about each individual story. But I did write down each of my ratings, so here you go: Sandhya Menon: 3,75/5 stars Anna-Marie McLemore: 4,5/5 stars Amy Reed: 5/5 stars Christine Day: 4,5/5 stars Sona Charaipotra: 4,5/5 stars Jaye Robin Brown: 4/5 stars Brandy Colbert: 3/5 stars Alexandra Duncan: 3,5/5 stars Maurene Goo: 4,5/5 stars Stephanie Kuehnert: 4,75/5 stars Julie Murphy: 4,75/5 stars Somaiya Daud: 3,75/5 stars Nina LaCour: 4,5/5 stars Ai I've read this book two weeks ago, so I don't really remember much about each individual story. But I did write down each of my ratings, so here you go: Sandhya Menon: 3,75/5 stars Anna-Marie McLemore: 4,5/5 stars Amy Reed: 5/5 stars Christine Day: 4,5/5 stars Sona Charaipotra: 4,5/5 stars Jaye Robin Brown: 4/5 stars Brandy Colbert: 3/5 stars Alexandra Duncan: 3,5/5 stars Maurene Goo: 4,5/5 stars Stephanie Kuehnert: 4,75/5 stars Julie Murphy: 4,75/5 stars Somaiya Daud: 3,75/5 stars Nina LaCour: 4,5/5 stars Aisha Saeed: 4/5 stars Hannah Moskowitz: 4/5 stars Ellen Hopkins: 1/5 stars I.W. Gregorio: 3,5/5 stars Martha Brockenbrough: 3,75/5 stars Jenny Torres Sanchez: 3,75/5 stars Amber Smith: 4,25/5 stars Tracy Deonn Walker: 4,5/5 stars Overall, this was really great! I would have loved to have a trans woman included in this list - maybe instead of Ellen Hopkins, who's the only one who makes NO FREAKING SENSE in a book like this. Her essay is basically 'Look what a great ally I am!'. Which is ironic, considering she loves to undermine the voices of marginalized folks, especially people of colour, and thinks it's appropriate to tell their stories for them? Honestly, just skip her essay. Do yourself a favour. My favourites were, as the ratings already suggests, the stories of Amy Reed, Julie Murphy and Stephanie Kuehnert. Julie Murphy's story made me squeal with delight, that's what I remember the most.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Fei Chan

    3.75- While I did enjoy this collection as a whole, it started to feel very repetitive, especially by the end. I really loved the intent & message each and every author had to share (except Ellen Hopkins, her contribution to the anthology did not lime up with the purpose behind this collection), but many of the essays left me unsatisfied. However, there were some really well written ones--my favorites were the essays written by Maureen Goo, Amy Reed, Amber Smith, Sandhya Menon, Ilene Wong (I 3.75- While I did enjoy this collection as a whole, it started to feel very repetitive, especially by the end. I really loved the intent & message each and every author had to share (except Ellen Hopkins, her contribution to the anthology did not lime up with the purpose behind this collection), but many of the essays left me unsatisfied. However, there were some really well written ones--my favorites were the essays written by Maureen Goo, Amy Reed, Amber Smith, Sandhya Menon, Ilene Wong (I.W.) Gregorio, and Sona Charaipotra.

  27. 5 out of 5

    feux d'artifice

    Hmm like all essay collections some I really liked, some I'm lukewarm on, and a few are hard passes for me. I did like that there were a few featured essays from submissions and not just already established YA authors. Out of the submissions I really liked Christine Day's essay, I liked the hopeful tone. I also really liked Maureen Goo's entry (I related to her rage) as well as Stephanie Kuehnert and Martha Brockenbrough's essays on rape culture. This collection is in written in defiance of the ora Hmm like all essay collections some I really liked, some I'm lukewarm on, and a few are hard passes for me. I did like that there were a few featured essays from submissions and not just already established YA authors. Out of the submissions I really liked Christine Day's essay, I liked the hopeful tone. I also really liked Maureen Goo's entry (I related to her rage) as well as Stephanie Kuehnert and Martha Brockenbrough's essays on rape culture. This collection is in written in defiance of the orange Menace's regime, and for that alone I will be happy for that this collection exists.

  28. 4 out of 5

    osoordinary

    Stories like these help us to know we're not alone in this great big world. These authors are brave and share worthwhile stories.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Tori

    The essays in this book are heavy and absolutely 100% should be read. I’ve been struggling to express my feelings about our current social and political climate, and this book really helped me in my search to find a way to share my thoughts and develop my voice.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    Empowering and truthful read.

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