This post includes one or more Book Depository Affiliate links. Purchases made through the link(s) allow me to make a small commission. This is at no extra charge to you. You can read more here.
Hi, friends! Remember when I introduced this series and said I’d be posting this once or twice a month? Wow was I overestimating myself! I last posted to this series in June but I have missed working on it a lot and I have been really excited to get back to it. I’ve been trying to accumulate more feminist nonfiction books to include but you’ll just have to be patient with me! I promise that I’m consistently working on it! Okay, let’s get to it!
Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America
Editor: Amy Reed
Contributors (In Chronological Order): Sandhya Menon, Anna-Marie McLemore, Amy Reed, Christine Day, Sona Charaipotra, Jaye Robin Brown, Brandy Colbert, Alexandra Duncan, Maurene Goo, Stephanie Kuehnert, Julie Murphy, Somaiya Daud, Nina LaCour, Aisha Saeed, Hannah Moskowitz, Ellen Hopkins, Ilene (I.W.) Gregorio, Martha Brockenbrough, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Amber Smith, & Tracy Deonn Walker
Published on August 14th, 2018 by Simon Pulse
Content/Trigger Warnings: Racism, Xenophobia, Violence Fueled by Racism, Homophobia, Sexual Assault, Rape
How’s the writing? ★★★★
Because this is an anthology and includes so many different types of writing styles, it is difficult for me to give it 5 stars in this category. I was familiar with many of these writers before picking this up, and some have writing styles that I like, while some I’m more indifferent to. However, there wasn’t a single essay in this collection that I felt was poorly written! I think that as a collection, the writing was worth at least 4 stars.
Was this educational/informational? ★★★★
This is another category that is a little difficult to rate because while this was incredibly telling, it is so on a much more personal level than educational. With that being said, however, I did not find that to be a bad thing! I think some of the most important lessons are learned through personal experiences. All of the women in this collection were aiming to educate about topics that have effected their lives through telling their stories. In that way, I feel like it’s informational because it gives you insight into the lives and experiences of so many. It’s informing you about their lives and their injustices. Additionally, there are some resources in the back of the book such as activism groups, projects, and sexual assault help that can help educate and inform.
Was the information credible? ★★★★★
All 21 essays in this collection are nonfiction and most of them are based on a story from each author’s past. Obviously we cannot fact check each story to ensure that everything actually happened, but I feel safe in trusting the stories these women were brave enough to tell!
How personal was this? Did it include any biases? ★★★★★
The level of personal that this collection is is what made it such an amazing read for me! As already mentioned, these women are opening up -some with stories they’ve never before told- to make a point and to allow other people to feel seen, represented, and full of hope. Their stories encompass a wide array of issues that they have faced and they put their experiences, pain, and abuse into their essays in order to be transparent and honest about their struggles.
Was this intersectional? ★★★★.5
This collection features authors of different races, sexuality, religions, classes, and countries of origin. Throughout the 21 essays, I felt like I got to read from so many unique perspectives and in that way, this truly felt inclusive and representative of so many people and walks of life. This was, thankfully, not just a group of straight white women talking about the struggles of women in America. There were black authors, Asian authors, bisexual authors, Native American authors, lesbian authors, Muslim authors, Latinx authors, Jewish authors, Christian authors, white authors, and heterosexual authors. I felt like a Trans author having a voice in this would’ve really added to its overall inclusiveness, but I’m unsure of the circumstances around why at least one was not present. I did note though that the editor, Amy Reid, explicitly states in the introduction that she wishes a transgender woman was featured in the anthology.
How relevant is this topic to society as a whole? ★★★★★
Um… extremely! These essays discuss racism, xenophobia, sexual assault, rape, misogyny, identity (both as women and as persons of color), religion, sexuality, and so much more! I didn’t annotate anything my first time through this but I am already itching to reread every essay and highlight so much of each one because there were so many important things voiced throughout this! This book tackles the many injustices that women have faced and continue to face.
“No matter how engaged we are, no matter how much we stand up for our neighbors and friends, when we aren’t directly affected by injustice we have the luxury of turning away from it.”
How relevant is this topic to the feminist movement? ★★★★★
There are times when you pick up a nonfiction book promising feminist content but you feel let down by the type of feminism. You know the kind (not intersectional, slut shaming, misguided intentions, etc). This didn’t have that issue. There were so many voices touching on so many different topics that concern women in America that so much ground was able to be covered. Though most of the essays mostly focused on one specific issue that the author was particularly passionate about, there were no statements of how there’s only one way to be a woman or how one thing is more or less important than another.
“All girls are as distinct as individual stars in the sky. All girls are also part of the universe’s infinite pattern. How wonderful, to be just like all the other girls in this way. How wonderful to be part of this vast and dazzling existence.”
My final reaction
This was a very fast read that kept me feeling passionate and personally drawn in to almost each essay. I saw myself in the stories and I saw so many of the women I know and see in the stories, too. There was so much to talk about and yet nearly every topic felt like it was handled delicately and yet ferociously at the same time. These were women who used their voices and told their stories through their art, and I am happy and honored to have read it.