Watch Us Rise

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 20 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

I want to thank NetGalley and Bloomsbury for allowing an advanced read of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Where to start? 
Watch Us Rise puts words to so many things that we all need to hear.  
These students are present in every high school, in every state, in our country and others.
We silence them daily.  We don't feel that we can afford to let them speak out.  
But the ideas here of non-violent protests against a system that has long been tolerated speak volumes.  
Do the students make mistakes?  Yes.  And they learn from them.  
Isn't that what we want them to do?

As a librarian, I especially love the research done to list readings to educate and empower those who are finding their voices.  

As a woman, I may not agree with every word written but I feel emboldened to reimagine the person I oncewas. The person long silenced by the expectations of others and the people-pleaser within.
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Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan inspire, empower and embolden with their latest, Watch Us Rise. I could not put this book down. This is a book for girls, for boys, for teachers, for students, for activists, for ally's, for anyone who wants to see and be change. This is a book that has power and gives a greater voice to those who are not often given space and respect. The book was beautiful, poignant, timely and perfect, I cannot wait for the world to see this book.
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For fans of Angie Thomas. This book is so needed right now for everyone. It's an absolute must read. The characters and the challenges they go through can resonate. Really recommend.
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Jasmine and Chelsea attend high school at Amsterdam Heights, a progressive school with an impressive social justice program. They are unhappy that their theater and poetry groups are still embracing the traditional, white ideas and want to make a change, so they start their own women's activist group, called Write Like a Girl. Each group in the school has a blog, so they start theirs, and their writing attracts lots of attention, both good and bad. The principal admonishes them that they need to watch themselves, which defeats the whole purpose of the group. The girls also have complicated lives. Jasmine's father is dying of cancer, and she has a long time friend in Isaac, but she's not sure where the two stand romantically. Chelsea has a younger sister who is also a feminist, but her parents are old school and religious. Chelsea is interested in a boy in her class, but he already has a girlfriend, although this doesn't stop him from putting the moves on Chelsea, which she doesn't appreciated. Still feeling that their voices aren't being heard, the girls print t shirts highlighting women's voices, and even stage a strike by the women in their school. While they are still not happy with the atmosphere, there are small steps being made, and the two are glad that they are socially conscious and willing to take risks in order to be heard. 

Strengths: This has lots of female empowerment as well as on trend depictions of many social issues like body positivity. Jasmine and Chelsea both take control of their own destinies and try to figure out a way to make their voices heard. They deal with a variety of reactions to their opinions from teachers who are supportive to classmates who mock them. The poetry will appeal to readers who like free verse.
Weaknesses: I found it a little hard to believe that the principal of a school that wins awards for social justice would be so completely tone deaf to microaggressions and outright harassment. It's not unusual to portray principals as incompetent, but it would have made more sense if the principal had been more supportive.
What I really think: This is very introspective and deals with many issues that middle school students are just discovering. It would be appropriate for middle school, but most likely of limited interest. An excellent purchase for a high school.
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LOVED this book. I clapped, I cheered, I learned new things. WATCH US RISE slides in right next to MOXIE on my “favorite feminist YA contemporary” shelf.
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Watch Us Rise is a wonderful tale of two friends finding their voices and speaking out about the injustices they see in their progressive high school. The story is told through the perspectives of Chelsea, a white poet who pines after the star basketball player, and her best friend Jasmine, who is a black, overweight actress tired of the stereotypical roles people her race and size always face. Together they create Write Like a Girl, a blog where they share their ideas about feminism, the patriarchy, and the world around them. As they seek to make real change in their community, they must figure out how use their voices without also getting in real trouble and losing their blog. My only issue with the book is the development of the secondary characters and the resolution of the minor conflicts.
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I loved this book! The full review will be posted Monday, February 4 at! Thank you very much for this wonderful opportunity to connect books to their readers!
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