Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Radical Element [review]


The Radical Element edited by Jessica Spotswood
Published by Candlewick Press on March 13, 2018
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg: 
3.81 (as of 2018-03-28)
cw: racism, ableism, domestic abuse, eugenics

Spoiler-free Review of an eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

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 whether 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 the 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.

These are such lovely stories! They’re all about complex, interesting women in history and there’s so much representation. There are trans characters and disabled characters and women of color and much more. When most of these stories came to an end, I was left wanting more. I was surprised to find them over. They’re not really tied up in neat little bows, they mostly end with you feeling like you’re at the precipice of a greater story. Any one of these feel like they could be effectively made into a full-fledged novel, and it was hard for me to forget that they were short stories.

The beds of civilization shifted in favor of men.

My rating for each story:

Daughter of the Book by Dahlia Adler ⭐️⭐️⭐️
You’re a Stranger Here
 by Mackenzi Lee ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Magician
 by Erin Bowman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Lady Firebrand
 by Megan Shepherd ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Step Right Up
 by Jessica Spotswood ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
 by Anna-Marie McLemore ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Better For All the World
 by Marieke Nijkamp ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
When the Moonlight Isn’t Enough
by Dhonielle Clayton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Belle of the Ball
 by Sarvenaz Tash ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave
 by Stacey Lee ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Birth of Susi Go-Go
 by Meg Medina ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Take Me With U 
by Sara Farizan ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

My average rating was 4.16 stars, rounded down to 4. I’m thinking I’ll have to go back and read Jessica Spotswood’s first edited collection of short stories, which I hadn’t gotten around to yet. I’d definitely recommend this to historical fiction readers, lovers of YA, and anyone excited to see diverse women in fiction.

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(Cover and blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)