Genre: YA Feminist Lit
Themes: Feminism + Youth Social Justice
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends on a mission—they’re 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 their work online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine’s response to the racial microaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral. But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by trolls. When things escalate in real life, the principal shuts the club down. Not willing to be silenced, Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices—and those of other young women—to be heard.
These two dynamic, creative young women stand up and speak out in a novel that features their compelling art and poetry along with powerful personal journeys that will inspire readers and budding poets, feminists, and activists.
I really enjoyed this novel. Having feminist literature accessible to and in the perspective of young people is SO important and crucial to us seeing a true change in society. The concept of a school being dedicated to teaching it’s students how to stand for something and nurturing their skills to take action is a great idea (I don’t know if it’s based on reality or not). Furthermore, the fact that the voices of young women were being silenced was very realistic and struck a cord with me. It is, after all, very early on that girls are silenced and often made to feel like our reactions to oppression are dramatic, whiny, and otherwise unfounded.
I enjoyed the fact that the book gave us the perspectives of both Chelsea and Jasmine. Seeing how feminism is viewed through the lens of a white woman and a woman of color is very important: If intersectionality is not present in the core of feminism, then it is not truly for all women – I think that is the most important aspect. Chelsea had to learn to look beyond her own narrow view of what it meant to be a woman and realize that fighting for women’s rights encompasses more than gender. True empowerment lies not when you create space for only yourself and your own needs, but when you create space for other marginalized groups that don’t have the ability to speak and be heard.
I did find it a little strange that we didn’t learn more about Nadine, her being part of the group. I would have liked to see more about her side of things and how her experiences fit here.
So many experiences stood out to me here: Jasmine being hit on by an older man in public and no one coming to her defense, Chelsea not being listened to when she reported being sexually harassed by a male student, Jasmine feeling unseen by even her best friend as both a black woman and “plus sized” and unable to shop at the same stores as those in her friend group, and on and on and on. This book was full of relatable experiences.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I will absolutely be having my nieces read this as they get a little older. I wish this type of literature had been accessible when I was younger, but I am so glad it’s available now.
MY FAVORITE PART of the novel is that the writers included resources at the end including:
- POETS WHO MAKE US RISE
- BOOKS [on feminism]
- BLOGS AND SITES THAT EDUCATE AND EMPOWER
- FOR AND BY GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN
- ORGANIZATIONS THAT OFFER FREE ACTIVIST PROGRAMS FOR GIRLS
- RESOURCES FOR BODY POSITIVITY
- READ MORE FROM AND ABOUT WOMEN QUOTED IN THIS BOOK
Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury YA for allowing me to read and review an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read Watch Us Rise? Share your thoughts below OR share a feminist novel or resource you love!