Tag Archives: activist

Review: How We Ricochet by Faith Gardner

How We Ricochet by Faith Gardner

How We Ricochet
Faith Gardner
Published May 24, 2022

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About How We Ricochet

Intimate, impactful, and incisive, this newest novel from Faith Gardner, critically acclaimed author of GIRL ON THE LINE, is an unflinching look into the devastating consequences of a mass shooting for one girl and her close-knit family, for readers of THIS IS HOW IT ENDS and ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES.

It seems sometimes a charade that we continue celebrating in the face of relentless tragedy.

How dare we? But then . . . what else is there to do?

Betty’s mom needed new pants for her job.

That was why Betty was at the mall with her mom and sister when the shooting started.

Afterward, nothing is the same.

There are no easy answers to be found, and Betty’s search for them leads her to Michael, the brother of the shooter. But this path only shows Betty one thing: that everything she thought she knew—about herself, about the world around her—can change in a heartbeat.

A moving, powerful journey of life after tragedy, HOW WE RICOCHET is an unflinching and necessary story for our time that will resonate with readers everywhere.

My Review

The whole book is told from Betty’s point-of-view. I liked that, and I truly loved the writing, so I think that was great. I did honestly wonder what the story would have been like if it had been divided between Michael and Betty’s points-of-view.

This is one of those books where there’s a LOT going on. Betty, her mom, and her sister are recovering from the experience of the mall shooting. The girls have a difficult relationship with their dad, who has been absent from their lives for ten years besides occasional phone calls and random gifts in the mail. Betty is trying to break into the fashion industry as a copy writer, something she isn’t sure she has a real passion for anymore. Her sister is spiraling into a bad place, and Betty doesn’t know how to help her. Her mom has leapt into a new identity as an activist for gun safety, leaving Betty feeling super isolated.

And then, of course, there’s her getting to know Michael, the brother of the shooter. There’s the way they dance around one another’s grief. The way they process their losses side by side, comforting each other without speaking about it. I loved the way their relationship unfolded. I liked that they were safe harbors for one another in the storm.


On the whole, I found this to be a deeply moving story with great writing and heartfelt relationships. This is the first book by Faith Gardner that I’ve ever read, but I am super interested in her other books now, too.

The cover copy compares this story to a book called THIS IS HOW IT ENDS, but I wonder if they meant THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp? That second book is a story about the unfolding of a school shooting, which is why I wondered about that.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Betty and another character identify as pansexual. One of her close friends is gay. Betty experiences some symptoms of PTSD after being near a shooting involving her mom and sister. Her sister also experiences debilitating PTSD symptoms.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Betty was next door during a shooting in a store where her mother and sister were. She heard the shots but didn’t see it happen. Her mom briefly describes what she witnessed.

Drug Content
Betty’s sister takes medication for panic attacks. She and Betty and others drink alcohol.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of HOW WE RICOCHET in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Pauli Murray by Rosita Stevens-Holsey and Terry Catasús Jennings

Pauli Murray: The Life of a Pioneering Feminist and Civil Rights Activist
Rosita Stevens-Holsey and Terry Catasús Jennings
Yellow Jacket
Published February 8, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Pauli Murray: The Life of a Pioneering Feminist and Civil Rights Activist

Pauli Murray was a trailblazer who spent her life fighting for civil rights and women’s rights. Writer, lawyer, activist, priest, Pauli was a champion for justice. Her life is immortalized in this biography told in verse.

Pauli Murray was a thorn in the side of white America demanding justice and equal treatment for all. She was a queer civil rights and women’s rights activist before any movement advocated for either–the brilliant mind that, in 1944, conceptualized the arguments that would win Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka; and in 1964, the arguments that won women equality in the workplace.

Throughout her life, she fought for the oppressed, not only through changing laws, but by using her powerful prose to influence those who could affect change. She lived by her convictions and challenged authority to demand fairness and justice regardless of the personal consequences. Without seeking acknowledgment, glory, or financial gain for what she did, Pauli Murray fought in the trenches for many of the rights we take for granted. Her goal was human rights and the dignity of life for all.

My Review

First, this is a biography told in verse, which I loved. It contains quotes from Murray herself as well as some samples of her poetry.

I hadn’t heard of Pauli Murray despite the fact that she did incredible things. This biography covers her early life, her journey through college where she faced discrimination not only due to her race but also her gender, and her later adult life.

This is the kind of story that can’t help but inspire readers. Wherever she went, Murray spoke up and challenged unfairness. I’m really disappointed that I didn’t learn anything about Pauli Murray in school. Her work made a huge impact on civil rights and women’s rights. I’ve ordered her autobiography, SONG IN A WEARY THROAT because I want to know more.

In the book, we learn that Pauli tried to convince her doctors to give her hormone treatments. The aunt who raised Pauli referred to Pauli as her “little boy-girl.” Today, Pauli would have had the language to identify as transgender.

The author describes Pauli as “A woman / who felt herself a man / trapped / in a woman’s body.” I’m not sure if that description is the author’s words or if it’s how Pauli Murray described herself. The idea is mentioned a couple of times.

Throughout the book, I couldn’t help but be impressed by how indomitable Pauli Murray was. Over and over, doors seemed to slam in her face, and she kept knocking anyway. Kept using the power of words to knock down barriers and change minds. I’m in awe of this incredible person.

I think this is a fantastic biography for young readers who want to know more about the Civil Rights Movement or the Women’s Rights Movement and its contributors, especially its unsung (at least in my public school education) heroes. Fans of LOVING VS. VIRGINIA by Patricia Hruby Powell need to add PAULI MURRAY to their shelves.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Pauli is Black and attracted to women.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
References to relationships with women.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of PAULI MURRAY in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Funny Gyal by Angeline Jackson and Susan McClelland

Funny Gyal: My Fight Against Homophobia in Jamaica
Angeline Jackson and Susan McClelland
Dundurn Press
Published June 7, 2022

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About Funny Gyal

“Instead of remaining silent, she chose to speak out…that’s the power of one person.” — Barack Obama

The inspiring story of Angeline Jackson, who stood up to Jamaica’s oppression of queer youth to demand recognition and justice.

When Angeline Jackson was a child, she wondered if there was something wrong with her for wanting to kiss the other girls. But as her sexuality blossomed in her teens, she knew she wouldn’t “grow out of it” and that her attraction to girls wasn’t against God. In fact, she discovered that same-sex relationships were depicted in the Bible, which she read devoutly, even if the tight-knit evangelical Christian community she grew up in believed any sexual relationship outside of marriage between a man and woman was a sin, and her society, Jamaica, criminalized homosexual sex.

Angeline’s story begins with her traumatic experience of “corrective rape” when she is lured by an online predator, then traces her childhood through her sexual and spiritual awakening as a teen — falling in love, breaking up, coming out, and then being forced into conversion therapy.

Sometimes dark, always threadbare and honest, FUNNY GYAL chronicles how Angeline’s faith deepens as a teenager, despite her parents’ conservative values and the strict Christian Jamaican society in which she lives, giving her the courage to challenge gender violence, rape culture, and oppression.

My Review

This book blew me away. I kind of expected that, to be honest. I was interested in reading more about Angeline Jackson for her activism and her experiences, but I’ve also read EVERY FALLING STAR by Sunju Lee and Susan McClelland. It’s been years since I read that book, but I still think about it, so I had high expectations for another memoir with Susan McClelland assisting in putting it together.

FUNNY GYAL drew me in from its early pages and didn’t let me go until the end of the book. I loved reading a queer, faith-positive story that continually challenged the idea that a person much choose between different aspects of who they are: faith or identity. Over and over Angeline Jackson returns to the idea that she can be, and is, both a person of faith and a lesbian, and that those two ideas aren’t in competition with one another.

I won’t lie– some parts of the book are hard to read. She describes some encounters with homophobic people. She also describes the trauma of rape, and the fears and doubts about the police taking the case seriously. Through her shared experiences, though, she reveals how the prejudices against LGBTQIA people leave them vulnerable as victims of violent crime. She shows incredible resilience and love, not only for herself, but for her country and her people.

She speaks frankly about the continual pain that it causes her for her family to choose a “love the sinner, hate the sin” kind of relationship with her. And how that makes her feel as though she can never fully be herself with them.

All in all, FUNNY GYAL is a rich, bold and vulnerable memoir about courage and resilience and finding your people. I loved this book. If you’re still looking for a good memoir to add to your Pride TBR this month, definitely check out this book!

Content Notes

Content warning for rape, homophobia, and abuse.

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

Angeline and her family are Jamaican. Angeline is a lesbian.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Two men rape Angeline and her friend at gunpoint. The event itself isn’t graphically described, but her trauma is.

Two girls kissing. Mentions of sex between two girls. Mention of oral sex between a boy and girl. At one point, Angeline (a teenager) enters into a sexual relationship with an adult who has had a position of authority over her.

Spiritual Content
Angeline is raised in a devout Christian home and church where she’s taught that same sex attraction or relationships are a sin. She points out that other Christian churches believe differently, and some are LGBTQ+ affirming. Angeline herself remains a Christian.

Violent Content
See sexual content. At times people say homophobic things to Angeline or others.

Drug Content
References to drinking alcohol. Reference to drugs slipped into a person’s drink. Angeline also attends a party and drinks alcohol.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of FUNNY GYAL in exchange for my honest review.

Review: A Walk Toward Peace: The True Story of Peace Pilgrim by Kathleen Krull

A Walk Toward Peace: The True Story of Peace Pilgrim
Kathleen Krull
Illustrated by Annie Bowler
Flyaway Books

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

About Walking Toward Peace

She gave up everything: her home, her possessions, even her real name. She called herself Peace Pilgrim, put on her sneakers, and started off on her quest to walk thousands of miles all around America. Step by step, mile after mile, Peace Pilgrim traveled tirelessly, inviting everyone she met to consider a world where each person and each nation chooses peace.

This true story about a little-known woman who sacrificed everything for her convictions inspires us to step out for what we believe in, gathering others to join us along the way.

My Review

What an awesome, inspiring story! As soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. I had heard of Peace Pilgrim before but didn’t really know much about her, and this book is a really great introduction that makes her story really accessible to young readers.

The images are bright and simple but evocative. I really enjoyed the way they brought the words to life.

At the end of the book, there’s a one page, more in-depth biography of Peace Pilgrim, which is especially great for readers at the upper end of the target audience (as well as for curious parents!).

All in all, I’m super glad I read this book and think it’s a great one to add to your bookshelf, library, or classroom.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 6 to 10.

Peace Pilgrim was a white American woman.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
The story vaguely mentions that many people were talking about whether the country should go to war.

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of WALKING TOWARD PEACE in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support running this blog.