Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan
Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women’s Rights Club. They post everything online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine’s response to the racial macroaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral. But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by online trolls. When things escalate, the principal shuts the club down. Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices—and those of other young women—to be heard.
This is one of the best books I’ve read this year!
I don’t know if it was the timing with the elections this week (writing this 2 days after elections), but this was just the perfect book for me right now. Wait until you see how many flags I put in the book. It’s hard to see in the picture, but I went through a whole set of flags.
I’m going to talk a little about the book, but mostly share some quotes. This book has a lot of blog posts, playlists, and poems. Warning for death of a parent (cancer), racism, sexism, fat shaming, slut shaming, harassment. There may be more, but each of these things are covered in the book.
Watch Us Rise has two narrators, Jasmine and Chelsea. They are best friends along with Isaac and Nadine. The four of them have been activists (artivists) since they were young. Each of them love a different art form (acting, poetry, drawing, singing) and they use this to get their message out.
The kids go to a school where they have to be in clubs. Jasmine quit her club after the adviser was trying to put her in roles where she was just loud and hysterical. Chelsea left her poetry club after feeling like her voice was being silenced. She didn’t want to just cover the classics (mostly white men). The girls decide to start a new club for girls. They call it “Write Like A Girl” and it really takes off. However, their progressive school isn’t thrilled with what they are doing and the principal shuts it down.
This book really focuses on fighting back and making sure your voice is heard. There is a lot about women who spoke out and made a difference. I loved so much about it, but the writing was incredible. Books like this make me want to do more.
“Uh no, it’s real. All the princesses I grew up with were thin and white and had long straight hair-all of them. I didn’t see myself in them. that’s the main problem-when you don’t have any diversity. You just have these generic models of women, marketed and manufactured to little girls all over the world, who are meant to value and want to look and act like those women. And what if you don’t look like them? Then where can you even see yourself?”
“There is a definite divide, as if a shirt with a 3x tag will contaminate the other clothes. I look through the clothes-there’s not much to choose from. Just two racks compared to a whole store of options for thinner girls.”
“It says: Why Are There Period Ads Everywhere? And below, it says, The better question is, why shouldn’t there be? There’s a 1 in 12 chance that you’re on your period now, yet we rarely discuss menstruation outside of whispers from woman to woman. Today we can change this.”
“This is how I know these people are my people, though, the ones who you can dance around and act silly with-the ones who you can do shots of soda with and laugh until it comes out of your nose. They’re also the ones you can cry with.”
“I resolve to protest and rage like a girl.”
“You know, ladies is old-fashioned, Mr. Smith. I like to use womyn, spelled W-O-M-Y-N, so I don’t have to include the word ‘man’.”
I can easily keep going. There are so many parts that I could quote to show you how amazing this book is. There is a lot of diversity. It talks about loving yourself, no matter what. And the friendship is so special.
I gave this book 5 stars and would rate it higher if I could. Thank you so much to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy for review. I will definitely be ordering this one soon.
*quotes taken from arc and may change before final publication
Is this book on your TBR yet? What other feminist YA books do you recommend?