Sunday, July 12, 2020

Something to Say

Ramée, Lisa Moore. Something to Say
July 14th 2020 by Balzer + Bray
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Janae feels that she has a lot of power over the universe, but she has uysed it incorrectly; she wanted her brother Marcus to stay at home rather than going to college, so she feels that his knee injury is her fault. He stays at home, and his college scholarship to play basketball is in jeopardy. This causes tension at home, especially with their mother. Their grandfather, Gee, also lives with them, since neither father is in the picture. Janae loves the online show Astrid Dane, which her mother thinks is frivolous, but which is a good escape for the anxious girl. At school, she doesn't have any friends and tries to fly beneath everyone's radar. This works fairly well until Aubrey, a new boy with dyed red hair, shows up at school and shared her love of Astrid Dane. He is very exuberant and determined to befriend Janae, who grudgingly starts to have lunch with him. Janae is very concerned about her language arts class, which has a lot of speeches that will be assigned. She is so anxious that she feels she can't possibly do them. A lot of her anxiety is due to her fear that she causes bad things to happen to those she loves. When her school's name might change from honoring the problematic John Wayne to honoring Sylvia Mendez, Janae wants to get involved in championing the young civil rights pioneer, but she is afraid to say something. When Gee has a stroke and is incapacitated, her anxiety increases. Will she be able to be a good friend to Aubrey, overcome her fear of speaking in public, and use her energy to make a change in the world?
Strengths: The biggest concern of middle school students is fitting in versus standing out. The second biggest concern is having friends. This addresses both of those concerns with a helping of social activism. I liked the inclusion of Sylvia Mendez; this would b e a good time to pitch Conkling's Sylvia and Aki (2011) to students! The multigenerational family is always interesting, and Aubrey's back story makes him an intriguing character.
Weaknesses: The mother is very mean to Janae and is not supportive of her love of Astrid Dane, and doesn't get her help for her almost crippling anxiety. The school is also not very supportive, although the language arts teacher is portrayed as being the best in the school. Also, there could have been a tiny bit more explanation on why the school would have been named after John Wayne; today's students will have no idea who he was.
What I really think: This is a great addition to recent books about social activism, such as this author's A Good Kind of Trouble, Schroeder's Wish on all the Stars, Maldonado's What Lane?, and Budhos' The Long Ride.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read anything by this author. This sounds like a good one that deals with a lot of issues that kids go through in middle school. Thanks for spotlighting it.