Watch Us Rise

Watch Us Rise

by Renée Watson, Ellen Hagan

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Watch Us Rise 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Watch Us Rise is a feminist manifesto for today’s young adults. It’s the story of Jasmine and Chelsea, two high school juniors in New York City who are fed up with the micro-aggressions in their school and decide to combat them by establishing a Women’s Rights Club. Amsterdam Heights High School claims to espouse and model social justice and equity, but when reactions to their Write Like a Girl blog “incite discord,” the club is disbanded. Rather than accept the Principal’s decision, the young “womyn” take their peaceful protests to the neighborhood and the local newspaper. Will their persistence pay off? This story is a testament to the power of positive modeling. Both Jasmine and Chelsea’s parents are liberal and civic-minded and have taught and encouraged their daughters to use their art as activism. In fact, Jasmine’s father, who is dying of cancer, challenges Jasmine, Chelsea and their friends Isaac and Nadine (whom he calls artivists) to “Go out and find some inspiration. Create some art in response to what you see.” Their poems, writings, songs, and drawings, combined with the narrative alternating between Jasmine and Chelsea, create an intersectional kaleidoscope of their reactions to the racism, fat-shaming, misogyny, discrimination and sexism they face daily. This book is groundbreaking and a much-needed portrayal of the struggles today’s young women continue to face. It sends a powerful message that words and actions can have positive impact and that change can begin with a single action. This is an essential purchase for any library serving teens and should be required reading as a springboard for open, honest dialogue. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bloomsbury through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
2Shaye More than 1 year ago
Jasmine and Chelsea, two best friends in a progressive NYC high school, decide to start a feminist club after their not-so-unique experiences among womyn. Jasmine faces not only racism due to being black, but she is regularly demeaned for being plus-sized. Chelsea, while white and average size, is demeaned verbally and physically for being female. These two juniors start their activism on a school blog called “Write Like a Girl.” Through poetry and prose, they openly confront the racism, feminism, and fatphobia they’ve experienced in their own high school. Eventually, it becomes a movement which is spread to regular open mic nights, pamphlets, street art, t-shirts, and even into an awards ceremony. Over the course of this book (which runs from August to May of the school year), these two girls, along with their close-knit group of friends, learn many hard life lessons about activism, following rules, and communication. This is a super fast read — the characters are strong and well-rounded, even if they sometimes leap before they look. In poetry and prose, the writing is sometimes brilliant. It’s often shared with hot anger, but there’s also a thread of sadness — such as this private moment when Jasmine worries she might lose her dad to cancer: "Dad falls asleep before the final round. I lay my head on his chest, like I used to do when I was little. I can hear Dad’s heart beating. I listen to his drum beat on and on. He is my favorite song." While classified as Young Adult, the content is not too mature for older middle grade readers (perhaps 7th and 8th graders). It would be an excellent introduction to a variety of teen social issues, like sexism, sizeism, and racism, while also demonstrating the coordination and work involved in productive activism.
FictionallySam More than 1 year ago
Stunning. 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.)