Cover Image: Accountable

Accountable

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

The story of a racist social media account at a high school and its fallout.

This was a really powerful nonfiction read that covers a very important topic. Social media can be a force for both good and bad, which is something I think we as a society are starting to reckon with. I do wish it was 150-200 pages shorter as it felt long and dragged on in places.

Was this review helpful?

Dashka Slater's <i>The 57 Bus</i> is, to this day, one of my favorite YA nonfiction books. We even teach it at my high school in 10th grade. So I was pumped to read her newest investigative piece about another case that involved teens and made the reader ask important questions.

In Slater's newest book, <i>Accountable</i> she covers the events at a high school over the span of about a year and how those events negatively impact the harmers and the harmed. With the discovery of a racist private Instagram account, the school and community of Albany, California must reckon with the consequences of the content. As with her first book, Slater asks the reader to try to understand the causes of the conflict, questioning not just the motives of individuals, but systemic issues in our country that helped lead those individuals to making those decisions. Slater tackles racism and the way intersectionality makes it worse for some, toxic masculinity, peer pressure, the impact of trauma, the impact of social media, and other issues that explain why something like this was possible. While she doesn't excuse the actions of the harmers, she asks the reader to find fault not simply with the perpetrator, but the ways that teenagers are impacted by the world in which they live.

While this book did ask the reader to do the same kind of thinking that I appreciated in her first book, I didn't love this one as much. By nature of the case she covered, there were a lot of people to track, so the book drags a bit as she has to check in with each of the main players in it. I'd say about halfway through the book, I hit a wall and wanted to put it down for a bit. But overall it was intriguing and thought provoking, and would be a great read for teens, parents, and educators in 2023.

Was this review helpful?

It is still amazing to me that the person who writes about an adorable french snail is the same person who has penned some of the best teen-centric journalism of the past decade. Much like in "The 57 Bus", Slater gives us all the details of a hate crime in a way that truely breaks down who, what, and why the parties did and reacted the way they did. "Accountable" covers the story of the @Youngcabbage social media account that blew the California city of Albany straight to national news. The account, created by a junior at the high school and followed by other students, depicted racist memes against not just African Americans in general, but specifically targeting other students in the school. Slater is able to show how the social media landscape of the 2000's has created a whole new way for teens to get lost in their actions. While I was fully expecting to be firmly on the side of the victims, I never expected to even see the side of the "harmers", as the followers of the account were coined. The school system really did fail so many of the people involved with this case.

Dashka Slater is truly, in my small, but well read opinion, the Jon Krakauer of young adult journalism. I know she mentioned in the foreword that she did not plan on doing another non fiction title, and that these cases are emotionally draining, but I would (and will) read every one she deems fit to publish.

Was this review helpful?

When I saw that Dashka Slater was coming out with another hard-hitting narrative nonfiction book for teens, I knew I wanted to read it. I had read her book The 57 Bus back when it came out in 2017 and found it very moving, so this one, which seemed to address similar themes was a no-brainer.

As she mentions in her author's note, the idea for this book came from someone attending a signing event for The 57 Bus, who asked if she had heard of the recent racist social media account at a nearby high school. And so began her research.

In March of 2017, two girls (one Asian and one Black) found an Instagram account on their (white) friend's phone called @yungcavage, created by another one of their friends, Charles. On the account were photos of them as well as other students (and a teacher) of color with racist captions and/or details superimposed over the images. One of the most harrowing was a photo of their Black friend Andrea with a noose shown around her neck. What follows is a vicious whirlwind of ramifications felt by both those who created and followed the account and those who were featured in the images.

Slater is a great storyteller, and the story she tells here is gripping. The effects of this one social media account that was created "as a joke" resulted in feelings of betrayal, loneliness, body dysmorphia, fear of violence, depression, and suicide ideation, from the teens on both sides of the account. As a parent of two littles, I greatly fear what my kids are going to have to deal with through their teen years that will be so radically different from my adolescence, and so much of this stems from social media use. The discussions that could be had in high schools as a result of the event portrayed here could be powerful.

I did think the book was longer than it needed to be (at almost 500 pages) and that Slater didn't really have any concrete conclusions to this story. This was one big, dangerous mess that spiraled out of control, and then eventually, years later, the players all moved on. Were they forever effected? Yes. But as none of them are yet old enough to rent a car, for example, it's hard to say just how this story ends.

Thanks to Netgalley and FSGBYR for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

whew. this book was heavy especially regarding the conversations around race and it affects everyone, regardless if they're directly involved or not.

the way this book is structured is different from anything i've read and it definitely makes it easier to digest such a heavy subject.

Was this review helpful?

Daska Slater has a way of storytelling that draws you in. Utilizing real words from the people impacted by these events, I was left to think about many issues including justice, shame and guilt, and of course, racism- institutional, internalized, overt, microaggression, etc. A fantastic read that I will be recommending to many others.

Was this review helpful?

Brilliant. And should be a mandatory read when anyone gets their first social media account. In a time of “boys will be boys” and “it was just a joke” how do we react when racist social media accounts are created and shared, even in secret? How do we prevent harm? How do we help those attacked feel safe? How do we help people understand the significant impact they have before they post? Before they egg each other one? Before they try on just one more edgy joke? This is a new YA nonfiction book with more questions than answers and perfect for discussion, inquiry, and shared reading opportunities. For anyone old enough to use social media. This book should be a game changer, an eye opener, a line in the sand of before and after. Because what we post has consequences even when we think no one will ever really know. A must read, must order, must share.

Was this review helpful?

The way this book is written is extremely disjointed and honestly, not a great way to tell this story. I stopped about a quarter of the way through because I was so frustrated with how this story was being told.

Was this review helpful?

4.5 stars. This is a must-read book for teens, parents of teens, and middle and high school teachers and administrators. The first half of the book is especially powerful and discussable. The reason I am not giving it a full 5 stars is the second half of the book, although important and necessary, drags a bit and might deter the readers who would gain the most from this book.

Was this review helpful?

4 stars

Reading Slater's _The 57 Bus_ impacted me so deeply that I expect I'll always want to pick up anything this author pens. While this book did not at all move me in the same way, I am glad I read it and will be fervently recommending it to my students.

When a racist social media account appears at a local high school in Albany, CA, (think Berkeley/Oakland/East Bay), everyone fails and/or is failed. This is the (at times too) lengthy exploration of the surrounding events.

This is a gritty but informative and important read, and any high school age kid will benefit from reading it. Adults can tell them constantly that what they do online will never go away, but this is a very good example of exactly how much one's poor choices, dumb mistakes, and the horrors of social media can coalesce to help you ruin your life and - most memorably - the lives of others.

Anyone familiar with Slater's aforementioned work may come into this expecting a different kind of depth than is available here, but that doesn't mean this book isn't also worth the read. It's not an easy journey, but it's a vital one.

Slater is a valuable contributor in this realm, and I'll continue to look forward to whatever this author generates next.

Was this review helpful?

Accountable is a gripping tale of social media gone wrong. Several boys are hanging out, picking on each other and their classmates. Part of their shtick is racist jokes and memes. One decides to make a private Instagram account to share these very edgy memes. 17 people ultimately follow the account.

Ultimately, other people, including those being made fun of, find out about the account, and the school finds out as well. People in the community are shocked as the boys are suspended or expelled from school, and everyone has to come to terms with their own racism.

This book does a great job of telling the story without moralizing or editorializing. The author spoke with many people in Albany, both those who made or commented on the memes, and those who were targeted by them, as well as parents, teachers and other community members.

This is an important book to read and share with teens, who might make some of the same mistakes these boys made. Thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy of this book.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review,

This was such a well-researched, well-crafted account of a true story that I vaguely remember hearing about in the news when it happened, and it truly does a thorough, deep dive into the subject, getting perspectives from all sides of the story. I truly think all educators and those who work with children and teenagers should read this book to see how behaviors like this social media account can start and how they can escalate, so that we're better informed on how and where to intervene. I know there are many people who shy away from reading non-fiction because it can be "boring and dry", but this book was not that, and was, in fact, immensely readable.

Was this review helpful?

In this compelling and well-investigated nonfiction book for teens, author Dashka Slater looks at an incident at Albany High School in which a racist, private instagram account made by one student and followed by a few others caused major disruption when it was discovered by the rest of the school, including several students and one staff member whose photographs were used in racist imagery. Slater explores more than just the events that unfolded, but also questions of how the students who made and followed the account could engage in racist imagery when they were friends with several of the students mocked in the memes they made. A strong choice for a teen book discussion.

Was this review helpful?

A very interesting account of what happens when people go too far on social media. I don’t normally like nonfiction but bullying has become much more prevalent with social media the way it is. Definitely a good read.

Was this review helpful?

This book is for teenagers and anyone who has a teenager in their life. It is a very deep, detailed dive into what led to the creation of a private instagram account by a high school student and its followers, as well as the aftermath, including the full effects on the targeted students and their families. It is thoughtful and thought provoking. This will be high on my list of recommended books for the staff at my middle and high schools.

Was this review helpful?

This book is a MUST read for all students, administrators, faculty, parents. Just about everyone could benefit from reading this balanced examination of an incident at a HS involving a private social media account featuring memes espousing racist tropes. The book raises important questions and attempts to position the emotions of all parties involved in perspective The question of who is culpable, how much each participant is culpable,can there every be an accurate accountability, how long is long enough, how much strength is needed to keep moving forward?
Truly thought provoking. If it can stir some introspection, it will have done a great service.

Was this review helpful?

Another excellent book by Dashka Slater examining the students involved with and victims of the racist Instagram account in Albany, California. Highly recommend for all educators!

Was this review helpful?

First, let me say that the author did an incredible amount of research to present all sides of the story for this book. Taking a true story about social media postings involving racism and their impact on people's lives is a hard issue to write about. I think that it is valuable for everyone to read. I could see it as a read for students, educators and parents especially. I think that the length though may deter some from picking it up but everyone should read about what happened in this high school so they learn from it. Thank you to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I remember when this story first made the news. I paid attention to it because I’m a high school teacher, I know people who live in Albany, and I worked in the neighboring school district for 20 years. What was on the news was only the tip of the iceberg.

“Accountable” is a well-written, compelling account of the discovery of a racist Instagram account started by a student at Albany High School and the lives in that school community that were irrevocably changed in the aftermath of the discovery. At nearly 500 pages, the story follows the perpetrators and victims, while providing important additional background information on racism in America, psychology, and other related issues. I found Dashka Slater’s style to be engaging throughout. Slater clearly spent a lot of time getting to know the students (and, to some extent, their families) involved.

This is not an “oh, everything will turn out just fine” type of story. There are no neat endings tied up with a pretty bow. NOTHING was the same for any of the students involved, even those who came to some sort of resolution or had some sort of reconciliation. This is a difficult story, but you need to read it anyway.

This book should be read by all teens and the adults who work with them. “Accountable” comes out in August.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book provided by NetGalley and the publisher, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

I know I'm going to be teaching narrative nonfiction in the fall. It's honestly one of my favorite genres to read. Making real life read like fiction makes it appealing to my middle schoolers (who normally only pick up nonfiction if it's about sports or written by a celebrity.)

But this book has so many tiers of things that they can relate to. High school students who are all "friends" and struggle with anxiety, power dynamics, speaking up, and bad choices. We literally had a situation similar to this one occur at our school. The posts were not nearly as horrible but there definitely was racist content.

I want to adopt this book for my class curriculum because I feel that so many of my students don't truly understand the history behind racist expressions and imagery - not to mention what exactly the first amendment protects and why schools are obligated to get involved in these situations (the Tinker test.) This book is educational on so many levels and is written about a topic that students are ridiculously familiar with. It's also an incredible door opener for students to begin to understand how choices on the internet can impact their entire lives. I don't want to tell other teachers what to do (that's the government's and angry parents' jobs, amiright?!) but I think this book should be required reading for every middle school student.

Another awesome thing about this book is that it offers tons of discussion questions already written that get kids engaged in talking about personal responsibility and ethics. This is a fantastic springboard for students to practice argumentative and debate skills. I honestly haven't been this excited to use a book in my classroom in a long time.

Was this review helpful?