Watch Us Rise

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 20 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

WATCH US RISE is the intersectional feminist YA contemporary book every girl is (probably) looking for -- I know that I could have definitely used it when I was in middle/high school. This book goes back and forth between the two main characters, Jasmine and Chelsea, who are looking to make the most of their time and their art by starting a Women's Rights Club (all school's need this, tbh).

One of my favorite things about this book is that the person that pushes Jasmine and her friends to embrace their cultures/races/gender and use their art skills to enhance their activism is Jasmine's father (who we immediately find out is dying of stage 4 cancer). 

I also love what they named their Women's Rights Club -- Write Like a Girl. Also, I don't know if this counts as a spoiler, but I 100% love the way Ms. Lucas calls out the girls and tells them they have more to learn about women's rights after they criticize her for having to go home and cook dinner. Older feminist women gently mentor the girls, making sure they check their privilege and the way their activism can ostracize people and actually hurt their movement rather than help it.

Part of feminism is about introspection and realizing and coming to terms with your own biases. These biases can be in regards to race, but often it is about the way women are pitted against each other: moms vs. women without children; working women vs. homemakers; high level career women vs. blue collar women; married women vs. single women; "attractive" women vs. "unattractive women". The list goes on and on, but I appreciate the fact that WATCH US RISE doesn't ignore this issue.

In regards to the writing style: there's not a whole lot of negative things I can say about the style of the book itself. I do like that it includes the personal writings of the characters (such as poems) and that the characters themselves represents intersectional feminism in that one character is a black girl and the other is a white girl. I thought there would be an issue with two authors (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't) but in this case, the chapters flow together and it doesn't feel choppy.

However, I personally felt that it needed more of a balance between the dialogue and description (it was weighted more towards dialogue), but that's a personal preference of mine and it certainly wasn't tilted enough to make it unreadable in any way. There are some blocky paragraphs that I would have personally split up, but keeping in mind that I'm reading the ARC of PDF, it could be a formatting issue. 

Books like WATCH US RISE deserve to be lifted up and supported. Reading fiction is about having a "lived through" experience -- oftentimes the lessons we learn in books stick with us longer and  more fully than the lessons we learn in classes. It's important to have books like this written in the genres of YA/MG; when teenagers have a lived through experience about intersectional feminism through the eyes of kids their own age, it's an experience that they can feel truly immersed and represented in. It can even be a form of catharsis and inspiration for readers who go through similar situations that are mirrored in the book. 

If you're Konmari-ing your library, this is a book to add and keep, especially if you're an adult looking for books for teenagers. I'm definitely putting this on my To-Buy list to add to my extensive library!
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A great feminist young adult novel that manages to portray the issues of third wave feminism, particularly intersectionality. The narrative is split between Jasmine, an African American writer and actress, and Chelsea, a white poet. The girls are inspired to start a feminist writing club to push back against certain racist, sexist tendencies at their school, and as their writings become more popular, their conflicts increase.
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Thanks to Netgalley and the publish for the e-ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. 

I really enjoyed this book, and I don't always enjoy books about feminism because they rarely address intersectional feminism. I liked the Watson and Hagan address this issue with their story and poems and show how even when one thinks they are being a feminist to everyone we are often a little blind to the issues that don't directly effect us. Many of the points brought up in this novel remind me points that Roxane Gay makes in her book "Bad Feminist" and how no matter how hard we try to be conscious and aware there are sometimes parts of us that feel guilty for seeking out aspects of the world we feel know we should be against, but that's okay because it makes us human. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a novel with two strong female leads who demonstrate a strong/positive support system for one another or want a book that deals with taking down the patriarchy. 

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I loved everything about this book! Wonderful, realistic characters, beautiful pacing, and a timely plot. I felt ALL of the emotions over the course of this book, but most of all I felt hopeful. The interspersed poetry, blogs, and comments make it even more compelling. A true must read.
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The overall message is good but my main problem with this book is with the lack of plot structure, huge lack of plot development and low deficiency of character development. I believe with that with such an ongoing issue, this YA novel could have been structured better. I will say that it is a good book to discuss the female issues that plague our society, something that young people need to have an open discussion about. But as a book with an entertaining and structurally sound story(a necessity that is needed in a book), this novel is not right for readers.
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This is a dynamic mix of a novel, filled with poetry, blog posts, and comments which keep the reader moving through the story. I feel like this mixture is geared perfectly to teens, and will draw them in. The characters are mostly well drawn, with flaws as well as strengths. While I have no experience with a school so focused on social justice and free expression, I do recognize the dynamic of a place so focused on it's outward appearance that it is blind to it's internal flaws. The addition of so many names in poetry, feminism and social justice, along with the extensive bibliography at the end are a giant plus. I have only two critiques. A few of the time jumps seems too disjointed. So much seems to be happening at the school, and then suddenly it's a month later. And the character of Nadine frustrated me as well. Every other character, including the teachers and parents seemed well drawn and to contribute a perspective to the story, but Nadine seemed to have no point of view. The book feels very important and will find a place on most library shelves and hopefully into the hands of many who need a push to make their own stand.
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Wow just wow !!! I knew from the blurb that this was going to be a very interesting book on intersectional feminism but the way it’s written in the form of poems, essays, quotes, art etc just blew me away. It made me think, rage, reflect, feel joy and also sadness. It’s been a great reading experience but I definitely don’t know if I can properly express my thoughts in this review.

Jasmine and Chelsea are two great realistic portrayals of teens who have a lots of thoughts and ideas, want to find a voice and express themselves but quickly learn that it’s not always easy, even at their very progressive New York high school. Jasmine is a big black girl actress and writer, Chelsea is a white girl poet ; their best friend Nadine is a Japanese Lebanese designer and Issac is a Peurto Rican artist and an ally to their cause. They are all encouraged especially by Jasmine’s dad who calls them “art-tivists” - people who can use their art to bring change and I loved the support he gave. Jasmine felt very relatable to me, mostly because I could feel everything she felt when she had to deal with conversations around her weight. She also came across as very thoughtful, even when dealing with the obstacles they face, along with her father’s terminal cancer diagnosis and the subsequent grief over her loss. On the other hand, Chelsea is very passionate about her ideas and doesn’t like to be stifled, so she can sometimes come across as rude/ stirring up the pot unnecessarily - however, I could also understand where she was coming from and she just needed a proper channel for her to voice her rage. But these two girls are not just feminists, they are also teenagers and I thought it was very realistically depicted. They have crushes, can get overwhelmed, have to deal with their feelings for boys and family issues; all the while wanting to be activists and not knowing how to reconcile all their various issues.

What I loved about this book is how it talks about broad issues but focuses on specifics that the girls face. The most relevant one I felt is the representation of women in the media, specifically women of color - how we are always subjected to the same old stereotypes which have racist origins, and how difficult it is to make people realize that stereotypes are harmful and affect so much of our thinking. The conversations about weight and how fat women are always represented as sad and needing to lose weight to be more happy; unable to find clothes in the usual sections because somehow, there has to be a separate but small plus size section ; how every  movie and media and magazine reinforces the same old beauty standards which only leads to more self-esteem issues among young girls. There are also many many more conversations here about sexism and misogyny and sexual harassment and microaggressions and how even the Principal/ teachers of a progressive school can be tone deaf to certain issues that stem from intersectionality. Another thing I absolutely loved about this book is how it gives so much detail about historical women who have been great activists, their notable works and many more resources for young women and allies who want to make a change and want their voices heard in this day and age. There is so so much more in this book, I probably highlighted almost half of it, but I’m just not able to articulate how important this book felt to me.

If you’ve enjoyed reading The Nowhere Girls or Moxie, then this book is definitely for you. I highly recommend this book to everyone - young and old, feminists and those who are unsure - this has something to ponder and think for everyone. It’ll give you a chance to reflect on your thoughts and actions of the past and how we can do better, how we can change the people or society around us in our own little ways. Just pick up this book and prepare to join the conversation.
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This was a very timely title and the poetry within and the resources provided were excellent. The characters and their actions were realistic and realistically frustrating (some major overreactions and thoughtlessness) but the characterization was not as strong as I would have liked. I enjoyed the feminist club and the intersectionality but overall it felt more didactic than I had hoped it would. Definitely recommended for fans of Moxie because this one handled race much better.
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I apologize in advance because I will not be able to discuss this book like a rational human being. 

I love this book. It is the book I needed when I was in high school; it is the book I need now.

Chelsea and Jasmine are amazing. They're smart and focused and fierce and funny and they are going to change the world, whether the people in their lives help or not. (I don't think it's a spoiler to say that many people don't but a not-small amount do.)

It's unapologetically feminist and its feminism is intersectional. It focuses on people of color and also deals with issues that are typically ignored. I think everyone who reads this is going to learn something.

But this doesn't feel like homework. It's a fun read and it's a book everyone I know will receive as presents this year. I love this book; I love its authors and it is the book we all need.

Highly recommended.
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I finished this book yesterday and I still don't really know how to put into words how much this book affected me. Told mostly through poems, playlists and blog posts, Watch Us Rise is a story about feminism and women's rights and how women's voices are silenced in today's so called progressive society.

Jasmine and Chelsea have been best friends since middle school and have been taught throughout their lives to use their talents to change the world. Both--along with their two other best friends, Nadine and Isaac; have been dubbed art-ivists, artists who use their talents to speak out against the wrongs of society and make their community in New York a better place. Jasmine an actor, Chelsea a poet, Nadine a designer, and Isaac an artist.

The characters within this story were rich and so raw and real that they honestly kept the story alive for me as we saw the struggles they face within their school. Each character showed a side of the issues female's face on a daily basis, Jasmine with microaggression and being forced to conform to the stereotypes of being a plus size African American and Chelsea with sexual harassment and being seeing but never heard. Sick of speaking into the void, the girls form their own after school club "Write like a Girl" where they post about woman's issues--needless to say their blog becomes an overnight success and they are soon sent on a whirlwind journey of learning: what do you want the world to hear when the whole world is listening?

Throughout my time reading I think I connected with Jasmine the most as we faced the same struggles in life--being plus sized in a world that demands thin, especially within our field of study (theatre/acting), and walking through the hardship of a parent dying of cancer. I cried and cheered for this character throughout as I watched her become more bold and confident with who she was and the voice she was creating.

The sole focus of this novel is using your voice--that it doesn't matter who you are and what you do, your voice still matters--and that the little sparks and actions can set off a fire that cannot be contained or controlled. This is what this book is--a spark to that flame that opens the discussion and dialogue of treatment of women and their rights around the world. With a diverse cast and a timely plot, Watch Us Rise highlights and references great female women who have empowered and made changes to society throughout time; giving these women's voices another platform to reach the generation of today. I honestly, learned so much from this novel, and it made me think about my own actions and if they were problematic or not. This book gives its readers a chance to reflect and take stock of their own lives so that they can be a better human tomorrow--something to which I tip my hat off too.

Overall, this young adult take on modern intersectional feminism was gripping and thought provoking. I highly recommend this everyone around me--young or old--there is something everyone can learn and take from with Watch Us Rise.

Representation: Diverse Cast, Plus Size MC, Cancer
Content Warning: Death of a Parent, Cancer, Sexual Harassment

(ARC provided by Netgalley and Bloomsbury YA in exchange for my honest review. Quotations taken from an uncorrected proof and may change upon final publication.)
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I received a free copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Watch us rise is an important story in a changing world in which women are speaking up and louder.  The book tells the story of Chelsea and Jasmine two womyn that are feminists that go to a social justice school. They decided to start their own club because they feel their school does not live up to its mission. This is the latest book geared towards girls and teens about feminism and need for people to speak up. I do think so other book have done this better but I think this is a good introduction for young women.
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In three words: Thought-provoking, emotional, inspiring. 

Jasmine, Chelsea, and their friends attended a very progressive school, which was supposed to focus on social justice.Yet, there were social injustices being committed left and right on school grounds. Instead of giving up, Jasmine and Chelsea formed a club, Write Like a Girl, where they shared stories, poetry, playlists, and information regarding women's issues and those, who have been fighting for women. 

One of the things I really enjoyed in this book was all the extras we got with the narrative: the illustrations, the poetry, the prose, the op-ed piece, and all the other informative essays. It was brilliant the way Watson and Hagan used these pieces to educate the reader, and they sought to inform without being preachy.

The same cannot be said for Chelsea. I gave her a little leeway, because I understood that she was a very passionate teen, but there were so many times she came across as one of those ranty white women. Her need to stir the pot ALL THE TIME was grating on me. Though, I did appreciate her struggle with her feminist ideals and subscribing to society's beauty standard, and I was proud of a big choice she made at one point as well. 

Chelsea was a little bit of a struggle, but you know, who I absolutely adored? Jasmine. I welcomed all her thoughts with open arms. Both Jasmine and Chelsea were frustrated with beauty ideals, but I found Jasmine's emotions so much more relatable. And, my heart broke for her and her family as they watched their father's illness progress. I cried just about every time dad was on page, and not just because it was sad for Jasmine, but because I thought he was pretty incredible. I loved how he supported not only Jasmine's growth, but that of her friends as well, by giving them different "challenges" to complete. 

But I didn't just cry for dad. I also cried during the big climax. I am a woman, who attended engineering school and worked in IT during the early 90s. Lots of sexism, and seeing these fiction young women rage for equality put a smile on my face, and made me wish I had half their courage back when I was their age. 

This book wasn't all BIG issues though. There were also common teen woes and worries in there regarding crushes, friendship, and family, which the authors wove into the story quite well. 

Overall: A really well written and compelling story of finding and making sure your voice is heard.
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Watch Us Rise is a timely and powerful read that focuses on Chelsea and Jasmine, two teens who are tired of the way women are treated even at their own high school, a progressive school in New York City that has received awards to recognize its dedication to social justice.  Their frustration boils over and they decide to start a Women’s Rights club, which they name Write Like a Girl, and which centers around a blog they create where they share videos, poems, and essays they have written, and where they spotlight female authors, and pay special attention to those who are women of color.

What I really loved about this story is the determination Jasmine and Chelsea show as they use their club and blog to make sure all women’s voices are heard, to speak out against sexism, racism, and even against those impossibly perfect standards of beauty and fashion that contribute to low self-esteem in so many young women.  I also liked that the story itself included excerpts from the blog, including some incredible resistance poems as well as comments from readers of the blog.  As a blogger myself, I just found this element of Watch Us Rise easy to relate to and loved that all of their hard work was paying off.

Watch Us Rise also explores some of the obstacles that the girls run up against as their blog grows in popularity.  They have their fair share of trolls, both online and in their school, and their principal isn’t nearly as supportive as he should be. I’ll admit I was not completely sold on the idea that the principal of such a progressive school wouldn’t be supportive of a Women’s Rights club, but I still thought that showing how the girls approached any obstacles that got in their path was very effective.

With Watch Us Rise, Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan have written a thought-provoking story that is sure to resonate with and empower many young women.
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Wow, what a treat! I wish every single man in the world could read and ingest this story. I worried early on with some of the clichéd cat fighting between the girls that this book would ultimately go against its own message, but I was thankfully proven wrong. This book doesn’t have the time to fully delve into every single facet of feminism - if it did, it would probably never end. But it made heroic, encouraging efforts to touch every perspective possible while choosing specific aspects to really dive into and explore in depth. This is what intersectional feminism looks like. And it’s amazing.
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This is such an amazing feminist piece! It was absolutely amazing! I'm giving it five stars! This book has such amazing characters, pacing and writing. The message in the story really touched me. There is so much power in h=this work!
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I absolutely loved this book and read it all in one sitting.  I appreciate that the two main characters had important discussions about all aspects of feminism and how blinded we can be to our own privilege.  Will be putting into the hands of so many library patrons.
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While I wholeheartedly hope that this book inspires and empowers teen girls, it felt a bit inauthentic to me at times. That said, I'll still recommend it to teens interested in books that explore feminism and standing up for what's right, and I'll still read whatever Renee Watson puts her mind to!
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Watch Us Rise is a book that speaks inspiration. Whether it be the poems about microaggressions, or the ways their voices are suppressed, Watch Us Rise is a book to give to all the young teens in your life. It is a book about friendship, keeping each other accountable, and checking our privilege. At the same time it's a story about loss, online trolls, and activism.

In Watch Us Rise I absolutely love the two main characters because through these two lives we are able to witness all of these varying nuanced conversation. Jasmine is a fat black teen who is coming to terms with her dad's cancer diagnosis. Whereas Chelsea is an outspoken feminist in a family that she feels doesn't support her as much as she'd like. While there are certainly experiences and passions that unite these two, there are also issues that they cannot comprehend. Like the sadness Jasmine feels when she shops with Chelsea. And while Chelsea has no problem speaking up, and sometimes putting her foot in her mouth, Jasmine's ethnicity means that even the things they experience together, are different for her.
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In Watch Us Rise, the story bounces between the points of view of Chelsea and Jasmine, high school juniors who attend a progressive high school in NYC, when they discover their school has a lot more progress to make.  Chelsea is white and a strong proponent of women, equality, respecting women's bodies, and respect.  Jasmine is black and full-figured, and joins Chelsea with these added lenses.  Together, they form a Women's Rights Club at school and their blog begins to get a lot of attention when they point out the harassment and narrow mindedness coming from several staff members and students.  They post everything from poetry to descriptions of the sexist and racist behaviors they see, but they soon run into opposition from their school and trolls online.  They do not let this deter them from their cause.

What I like about this book is that it teaches young readers about what women go through and gives them examples of young women their own age who are able to make a difference.  Many of the stereotypes pointed out in the book are widely accepted, and this book will educate readers and teach them to keep their eyes open to them.  I also appreciate that it teaches self-love, but the characters are both humanized when they start to question their own beliefs for the sake of romance.
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Timely, important, lyrical. This is a book I wish I'd had for the youth I work, years ago. We've needed this book for a long time. Longer review to follow on goodreads & the blog, but this book is one I've been waiting for.
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