The Radical Element 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes & Other Dauntless Girls
by Candlewick Press
Description: In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections. To respect yourself, to love yourself, should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It’s a decision that must be faced when you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs — whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they’re asking you to join them.
My Thoughts: This anthology is a must-read. While this is a collection of fictional stories set during various times in history, I am pretty sure there were women like this at each of those times. And I would have loved to be them or their friend,at the least! The collection represents diverse characters (across race, age, places, time periods) and includes author’s notes at the end with details on real events surrounding the fictional stories.
I had not read any of these authors but now plan to check out other books by them. Here are a couple of comments about a few and my rating of each of them.
Daughter of the Book – by Dahlia Adler – 5 ★s – This gave me a glimpse into Jewish history and their life of over a century ago; loved this story for the bravery that Rebekah shows and for the insight into a part of history that I did not know before through this work of fiction; and just wished it was a little longer.
You’re a Stranger Here – by Mackenzie Lee – 3 ★s
The Magician – by Erin Bowman – 3.5 ★s – while this seemed like a been there, done that type of story with the girl dressed as a boy, I did learn a spot of history and was impressed that the author chose to have the girl work as a stevedore
Lady Firebrand – by Megan Shepherd – 4 ★s – you can be that masked hero no matter what – even if you are wheelchair bound or a free colored person at a time when women and the colored were without power
Step Right Up – by Jessica Spotswood – 3.5 ★s – the circus! What’s not to love about it?
Glamour -by Anna-Marie McLemore – 5 ★s – magical reality has its own beauty and that beauty shines through here. I could picture that favorite magnolia tree that Grace loves under the Easter full moon as I read the words describing it.
Better For All the World – by Marieke Nijkamp – 4.5 ★s
When the Moonlight Isn’t Enough – by Dhonielle Clayton – 4.5 ★s – beautiful writing like poetry and an urge to break free of years of monotony, of doing something different to help a cause greater than the self – all of that meant I loved this read.
The Belle of the Ball – by Sarvenaz Tash – 5 ★s – humor was what shined through the words of this story more than anything else; and it stuck a chord in me considering the main character wanted to be a writer.
Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave – by Stacey Lee – 4.5 ★s –
The Birth of Susi Go-Go – by Meg Medina – 3.5 ★s
Take Me With You – by Sara Farizan – 4.5 ★s – With a band name like Ovarian Cysters that the main character is invited to join by breaking free of the norm, what’s not to like?!
All the stories left me hanging and hoping that I will be able to read more of what happened to these strong and radical elements; maybe there are novels in the making? And I do think that is always an indication of a good short – on the one hand, there is so much told in the matter of a few pages; and on the other, the reader is left wanting more.
Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley for the eARC of this book. My review here reflects my honest opinions of the book.
For ABC Wednesday, M is for Malgudi Days.
While I admit I have not read all the stories in this collection, I have a glimpse into the lives of the citizens of the fictional town of Malgudi between the book and the TV series based on the book. R.K.Narayan has a knack for taking the ordinary and transforming it into brilliance and I truly do not know what else I could say about this collection than this. So go ahead and get the book for yourself and dive right into the lives of Malgudians and note that this is not one of those perfect utopian or scary dystopian fictional towns – just an everyday town you might enjoy stumbling right into. One of my favorite shorts of this series is ‘An Astrologer’s Day’ and I have definitely reading more of his other novels as well, including ‘The English Teacher’ and ‘The Guide‘.
This post – M for Malgudi Days – goes towards ABC Wednesday‘s round 22 – letter M (my theme for ABC Wednesday’s Round 22 as you might have already guessed, is children’s books – I will pick one popular (and sometimes the not so popular/the unknown) book – classic/modern/old/new… – and write about it – be it a backstory or facts or something else completely).
And the book ‘The Radical Element’ goes towards What are you Reading? From Picture Books to YA at Teach Mentor Texts
4 thoughts on “Days in Fictional Towns – Meeting Radical Elements”
I’ve heard of Malgudi Days – but I don’t think I own a copy. Sounds like a must-read.
Malgudi Days is definitely readable!!
I’m glad to hear more about The Radical Element. It originally looked like the second book in a series, so I wasn’t sure if I needed to read the first one beforehand. From your review, it sounds like that’s not an issue. I liked what you said about Dhonielle Clayton’s writing. I just read her latest book, The Belles, last month. I’ll definitely be checking to see if we’re getting this book in our local libraries soon. I read a lot of MGlit and YAlit for my course prep (and just because I really enjoy it), so it sounds like it would be right up my alley. Thanks for sharing with #imwayr and have a great reading week!
Thank you Shaye…These are all stand alone stories (and I have not read the first one as well, based on what I read about both of the collections, they can be read independently)..