The Radical Element – Jessica Spotswood

Posted 9 april 2018 by Silke (boekinwonderland) in Historisch, YA / 0 Comments

The Radical Element – Jessica Spotswood

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.

The Radical Element (A Tyranny of Petticoats, #2) by Jessica Spotswood, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sarvenaz Tash, Sara Farizan, Marieke Nijkamp, Meg Medina, Erin Bowman, Stacey Lee, Mackenzi Lee, Dhonielle Clayton, Dahlia Adler
on March 13, 2018
Published by Candlewick Press Pages: 320
Genres: Anthology, Historisch
Format: ARC

Review The Radical Element:

The Radical Element is the second book in the A Tyranny of Petticoats series. Both books are anthology’s and can be read completely separately. But they both follow the main idea: strong woman in historical settings. I overall quite enjoyed The Radical Element, of course like with every anthology there are stories that completely blow you away and stories that feel like page filling. But overall I thought the idea and the execution of this book was well done. Especially as a non-American citizen I loved learning about the different historical events and social structures in the USA. Really interesting and educational, without feeling like you are getting a history lesson.

The Radical Element contains 12 different stories by 12 different YA authors.

  • Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler (1838: Savannah, Georgia): 3.5 stars
    I really enjoyed Dahlia Adlers writing style. The story is easy to get into and for me it was a good starter story, because the Jewish community isn’t so foreign for me.
    Quite an entertaining story that I wish could have been longer. For me this could have been a full story, that I would quite enjoy.
  • You’re a Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee (1844: Nauvoo, Illinois): 4 stars
    I was quite hesitant going into this story, because I really didn’t enjoy Mackenzi Lee’s A Gentlemen’s guide. But this story pleasantly surprised me. I knew absolutely nothing about Mormons, but I was intrigued by their founding history and how they were treated by others. A cold, very dark story, which I found quite fascinating.
  • The Magician by Erin Bowman (1858: Colorado River, New Mexico): 2 stars
    I think this story just wasn’t for me. It could have been a really profound story about gender fluid characters, but the overall storyline was boring. I just couldn’t keep myself focused on what was happing. (Which wasn’t a lot to be quite honest.)
  • Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd (1863: Charleston, South Carolina): 4 stars
    This story was so much fun! It gave me Zorro vibes for some reason. I really liked that a free black girl and a disabled white girl together formed this real life superhero. This story is so much fun to read, with even a little bit of romance.
  • Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood: 4 stars
    Another story I really loved. I am apparently very keen on circus stories and this story just breathed circus. Another one I would have loved to read the full story of.
  • Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore (1923: Los Angeles and the Central Valley, California): 2,5 stars
    I still don’t know what to think about this story. I loved the overall thought behind the story, but I thought it was written quite messy and the huge plot twist in the end was kind of lost to me. I had to go back and reread to connect all the dots. I didn’t love it as much as I would have liked to.
  • Better for all the World by Marieke Nijkamp (1927: Washington, DC): 4 stars
    I never read an own voice story about an autistic girl before, but I really loved how Marieke Nijkamp brought this story to life. I actually loved that both sides of the story got some screen-time. It showed that everything isn’t just black and white.
  • When the Moonlight isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton (1943: Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts): 2 stars
    Magical realism, I Always seem to struggle with it. And in this case I really felt the story didn’t have the right click. It felt disjointed. Maybe the overall message and the magical element were a bit to much to adapt into a short story?
  • The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash (1952: Brooklyn, New York): 3 stars
    An overall decent story. It didn’t blow me away, but it was ok. The story itself was quite entertaining, but the overall messages was quite bland compared to other stories in this anthology.
  • Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee (1955: Oakland, California): 3 stars
    Another part of American history I knew almost next to nothing about. Very interesting to learn more about the Asian-American background in the US and especially Hawaii. I would have rated this story higher if it would have been longer. Again I felt like a needed a little bit more information.
  • The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina (1972: Queens, New York): 2 stars
    I really disliked this one. The characters felt really inconsistent and the story was way to long. I missed a clear message in this story and I just couldn’t figure out why the main character was part of this analogy about brave girls in history.
  • Take Me With U by Sara Farizan (1984: Boston, Massachusetts): 2.5 stars
    Well this was quite a bland story. It started off as a really promising concept. But it was very short and it never really took off. It had potential, a shame to see it go to waste.

The Radical Element is an important book. It brings an important message to young people about fighting what you believe in and not being afraid to be who you want to be.


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