Tag Archive | African American

Civil War dangers remain in Crossing Ebenezer Creek, by Tonya Bolden (book review)

book cover of Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comFreed by Yankee soldiers!
Not all believe in emancipation.
What does the future hold for former slaves?

Read this book – for the joy that freedom brings.
Read it – for the sorrow that war brings.
Read it – for our shared humanness, as Mariah and Caleb fall in love, despite all.

Every time I see Ebenezer in a church name, I will surely remember this story.

Can hope remain when trust runs thin?
**kmm

Book info: Crossing Ebenezer Creek / Tonya Bolden. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Freed by the Yankees, Mariah and her fellow enslaved persons travel along with the Union Army, but not all soldiers believe they should be free.

The young teen girl rejoices when Capt. Galloway says “You now own yourselves” and promises to keep them free on their journey – away from Miss Callie’s strident commands and slave-driver Nero’s brutal whip.

Caleb lived through the Burning of Atlanta and now forages for Sherman’s Army. Meeting Mariah and little Zeke strains his “no attachments” resolution (and the young man is secretly glad).

How can Mariah keep her simple little brother safe?
Why are some men in the Union Army if they think slavery is right?
Mariah dares to dream of a future, not alone – but what secret does Caleb hide?

Told in alternating chapters by Mariah and Caleb is the story of past slavery and longing for full freedom, but first they must survive the upcoming showdown between Union and Confederate forces.

Audiobooks with true soul & saddened hearts

Time to download this week’s soulful audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears – at no cost!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday (June 15-21, 2017), you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device

Bookmark the SYNC site now so you can download great audiobooks all summer long: http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois| Read by Rodney Gardiner Published by Dreamscape Media | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe Souls of Black Folk (download here free from 15-21 June)
by W.E.B. Du Bois
Read by Rodney Gardiner
Published by Dreamscape Media

Following the Civil War and Emancipation, African-Americans were systematically denied their rights, as Du Bois chronicled in this 1903 work which rings true today, as progress has been uneven, at best.
 
The Red Umbrella (download here free from 15-21 June) CD cover of The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez | Read by Kyla Garcia Published by Ideal Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Read by Kyla Garcia
Published by Ideal Audiobooks<

Abruptly moved to prairieland Nebraska from tropical Cuba when Castro’s control grows tighter in 1963, teen Lucia must cope with new language and new worries – will she and her little brother ever see their parents again?

Displacement, change, and loss – can you relate?
**kmm

Names They Gave Us – enough against chaos? by Emery Lord (book review)

book cover of Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.com She did everything properly,
all promises kept on her side of the bargain,
but evidently God has other plans for her mom…

Asked by her own parents to be counselor at a different camp, while Mom recovers at their family’s church camp just around the lakeshore – Lucy is angry at God for letting the cancer come back and at her boyfriend for ‘pausing’ their relationship for summer.

If she can salvage even a scrap of comfort from working with little kids who spend the summer at Daybreak to escape terrible situations…

This mid-May 2017 novel is stirring, honest, and powerful – faith isn’t always strong, past history is often murky, and the future is never promised to anyone.

(personally, I think the title has no relevance to the story at all. Wonder why @EmeryLord agreed to it – but authors don’t have total control over titles and rarely have a say about the cover art).

Have you ever bargained with God?
**kmm

Book info: The Names They Gave Us / Emery Lord. Bloomsbury Teens, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: All Lucy wants is summer at her parents’ church camp so she can get over Mom’s cancer returning and her boyfriend ‘pausing’ their perfect relationship, but the midwest teen finds herself at another camp nearby, where worry and hope (and Jones) wrestle for her attention.

The counselors and the campers at Daybreak all carry heavy burdens of past circumstances – Mom thinks this is better for Lucy than being with her between chemo sessions?

Just a mile between both camps so Lucy can still hear Dad’s sermons every Sunday – why does that distance seem to change constantly all summer?

Deepening friendships with fellow counselors during their summer together, especially with Henry Jones – can she have a crush on him, so soon after Lukas?

Big concerns affecting her littlest campers, fretting over chemo effects, wondering if she can remember every tiny detail about Mom, huge secrets revealed and memories made. God didn’t keep his side of Lucy’s bargain to keep Mom healthy, but perhaps Lucy doesn’t have to stay mad at him forever.

Diaries of life, despair, hope – on audiobooks!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC bring us the hopes, dreams, and fears of American teens in their own varied voices.

Please download these complete, professionally recorded audiobooks before midnight PDT Wednesday, May 17, 2017. You can listen to them whenever you want, as long as you have them saved on your computer or electronic device.

Download great audiobooks all summer long at http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes | Read by Jessica Almasy, Kevin R. Free, Marc Damon Johnson, Sisi Aisha Johnson, Melanie Martinez, Cherise Boothe Published by Recorded Books |recommended on BooksYALove.comBronx Masquerade (download here free through May 17)
by Nikki Grimes
Read by Jessica Almasy, Kevin R. Free, Marc Damon Johnson, Sisi Aisha Johnson, Melanie Martinez, Cherise Boothe
Published by Recorded Books

During poetry slams at their inner city high school, 18 young people express their fears and hopes aloud.
 

Teenage Diaries: Then and Now (download here free through May 17)CD cover of Teenage Diaries Then and Now by Radio Diaries | Read by Hosted by Joe Richman Published by HighBridge Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Radio Diaries
Read by Hosted by Joe Richman
Published by HighBridge Audio

Five diverse people who recorded their lives as teens on the award-winning NPR series in the 90s return to speak about their lives as adults.

How do you chronicle your life story?
**kmm

J for jitters & The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli (book review)

book cover of Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli published by Balzer+Bray  | recommended on BooksYALove.comNot the cute twin,
nor the bold twin,
not ever getting kissed?

Molly and Cassie’s moms (finally getting married – yay!) have lots of great advice, but asking them how to get past just a crush to real relationship? Not gonna do that.

Published yesterday (11 April 2017), The Upside of Unrequited is Molly’s very essence: hopeful yet hesitant, creative and cautious, trying to move out of her shy chubby-girl comfort zone and get close enough to a guy to be accepted… or rejected.

Be sure to visit the publisher’s website here to read the first chapters free.

I adored Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (my no-spoiler review here) and cannot wait to meet whoever her next novel brings us.

Are you brave enough to try something that might break your heart?
**kmm

Book info: The Upside of Unrequited / Becky Albertalli. Balzer + Bray, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Always crushing on a guy means never getting hurt, but never in a relationship either – maybe summer before senior year will be different for Molly. Her twin Cassie is with Mina now and eager to help things along – if only Molly will be brave enough to talk to someone!

Planning her moms’ wedding (finally legal in Maryland!), working with Reid in his parents’ eclectic shop for the summer, and worrying that Cassie is way too enthusiastic about hipster Will as perfect “Operation Boyfriend” material – no wonder Molly is too anxious to sleep well.

Has Cassie really fallen in love with Mina?
Will Aunt Karen relent and come to their moms’ wedding?
Why is being with Reid so… real?

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (fiction) – police + prejudice = self-protection or murder?

book cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas published by Balzer + Bray  | recommended on BooksYALove.comUnarmed, he’s shot by police.
Horrified, she’s the only witness.
Telling the truth will endanger her family – can she do it?

At 16, Starr should be concerned with grades, love, and her future – not drive-by shootings and police brutality in her poor neighborhood, not white kids at her suburban private school “protesting” Kahlil’s death as a way to skip class, not worrying if her testimony will bring down the wrath of gang members and police.

Happy book birthday to The Hate U Give – wish it could be purely fiction, instead of ‘straight from the headlines’ lived experience…

How can we stop this cycle of threat, miscommunication, and death?
**kmm

Book info:The Hate U Give / Angie Thomas. Balzer + Bray, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kahlil’s murder during a routine traffic stop upends 16 year old Starr’s world as she mourns her friend’s death with her inner city neighbors, struggles to explain it to her white prep school classmates, and must decide whether to testify against that police officer, endangering everything.

Starr is two versions of herself – automatically cool black girl at the suburban prep school her parents sacrifice to pay for and then “Big Mav’s daughter who work in the store” in their poor neighborhood.

Truth or safety? Gangs and their turf wars are woven into Garden Heights.
Will her testimony send the white cop to trial? Not likely.
Can she keep being two different people, at home and at school? Tension, pressure…

If white boyfriend Chris finds out that Starr is the only witness to Kahlil’s death, surely he’ll treat her differently, and that she just couldn’t bear.

Too true, too real, The Hate U Give moves from one fatal mistake to a torrent of prejudgment and violence.

Racism, riot, murders: Dreamland Burning (fiction), by Jennifer Latham

book cover of Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham published by Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRioting and looting for 14 hours,
Murder, torture, arson –
Whites erasing black community

Will is already uncomfortable as son of white father and Osage mother, so when the KKK starts recruiting in Tulsa just as he’s getting to know a Negro brother and sister, how should he react?

Rowan didn’t expect to find a body in her Tulsa yard this summer, or to swap comfortable lab internship for charity clinic work on ‘that side’ of town, or to be slammed with prejudices that her black mother and white father had shielded her from.

Listen to an interview with author Jennifer Latham here for some deep background and insights on why she wrote this book about this 1921 event which wasn’t openly discussed by black or white families in Tulsa for over 50 years.

Happy book birthday to Dreamland Burning! Look for it at your local library or independent bookstore, and find Jennifer’s first book Scarlett Undercover (my no-spoiler recommendation here) there, too.

How to see friendship as a bridge instead of a wall?
**kmm

Book info: Dreamland Burning / Jennifer Latham. Little Brown, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: First day of Rowan’s summer vacation – time to sleep in before lab internship begins, text her best friend, find a dead body in the back yard!? As the biracial teen investigates, details about Tulsa’s vicious and never-discussed 1921 race riot hit her as hard as the new episodes of prejudice she experiences today.

Working in Pop’s store, William sees his father sell Victrolas to Negro families, despite Jim Crow laws. Vernon Fish is recruiting Pop for the KKK and mocks Will as ‘half-breed’ for his Osage mother. Will decides to dare as his Pop does when a black teen wants to buy a record player, little imagining that getting to know Joseph and little sister Ruby as people instead of Negroes may shortly endanger all their lives.

Schedule glitch nixes Rowan’s resume-building internship, so she’s directed to work at the free clinic way across town from her fancy neighborhood and private school. She’ll check with her parents later.

In 1921, reports of a Negro man assaulting a white woman spread like wildfire, and white Tulsans begin attacking the black Greenwood section of town with nooses, guns, and greed.

Can Will really shoot anyone coming to the shop during the riot?
Who is the body under the floor of the servant house?
How does Rowan’s story today converge with Will’s actions over 90 years ago?

Told in voices past and present, this long-silenced episode of history comes vividly alive, as Rowan tries to understand what really happened after World War I when Will struggled to help Joseph and Ruby survive.

Stone Mirrors, breaking sculpture barriers (fiction), by Jeannine Atkins

book cover of Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccused unjustly, white against black.
Hurt unfairly, strong against weak.
Dream pursued intensely, self against society.

How did an impoverished young woman, orphaned by her Ojibwe (Chippewa) mother and freedman black father, overcome being on trial for white classmates’ poisoning during the Civil War to become a prominent sculptor living in Italy?

Check out the Google Doodle honoring her on Feb. 1, to meet Edmonia Lewis, whose determination to create art drove her to become the first noted woman sculptor of African-American and Native American descent.

Read an excerpt for this January 2017 novel in verse here courtesy of the publisher, then head to your local library or independent bookstore.

How far would you travel to accomplish your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sketching is like breathing for Edmonia, but her art classes at Oberlin Academy can’t prepare the scholarship girl for false accusations of theft and poisoning which may steal her opportunity to be an artist.

Living in the North during the Civil War doesn’t make the skin given by her freedman father any less dark. Dressing in crinolines like her white classmates doesn’t lessen her longing for the forests and woodsmoke of her mother’s Ojibwe village. Being poor and different does make her the ideal scapegoat for her white classmates’ indiscreet drinking – “poisoned by Edmonia!”

Days in the courtroom, scholarship revoked, the young woman must leave town, earn a living, seek the smallest possibility that she may ever sculpt again – and she leaps at opportunity when it finds her!

This novel in verse illumines the sparse facts of Edmonia’s life with possible details as we watch her grow into a noted sculptor living in Italy in the late 1800s when neither women nor persons of color were celebrated for their artistic talents.

Bright Lights, Dark Nights, by Stephen Emond (book review) – challenging times for first love

book cover of Bright Lights Dark Nights by Stephen Emond published by Roaring Brook | recommended on BooksYALove.comHe’s white, she’s black,
Foo Fighters fans, first love delights!
Their friends and family? not so happy…

Until scintillating Naomi comes into Walter’s very dull urban life, he hadn’t really worried about girls before. Complicates things a bit, that she’s little sister of his pal for all things comic books and rap.

Shouldn’t be a big issue that they’re an interracial couple in these days, but then his cop dad is reprimanded for racial profiling and decides to present his side of the case on social media…

Read chapter one here (without the artwork, alas) courtesy of the publisher, then check out the story in all its duality – black and white, love and anger, words and art, urban smooth and suburban entrenchment, personal responsibility and anonymous attacks – at your local library or independent bookstore, as hardcover or new August 2016 paperback.

When to stand together in the face of society’s obstacles?
**kmm

Book info:  Bright Lights, Dark Nights / Stephen Emond. Roaring Brook, 2015 (hardcover); 2016, Square Fish (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A racial profiling scandal gone viral imperils the new relationship between Walter and Naomi, as his white cop dad ‘tries too hard’ to solve vandalism in their grim urban neighborhood.

Why can’t they just enjoy the Foo Fighters’ music and start falling toward being in love?
Shouldn’t being an interracial couple just be normal now?
How does the old news of his parents’ divorce become a new crisis?

Dealing with guys who think Naomi should stay with her old friends, with his family’s ingrained racism louder than ever, and with Dad’s sudden insistence on clearing his name on social media, Walter isn’t sure of himself or of Naomi’s affection, then things really get tough.

Bright Lights, Dark Nights is an illustrated story of first love, music, self-respect, classic movies, and finding your place in the world.

Fiction shows difficult truths in free audiobooks

More free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Each download period runs from Thursday through Wednesday, so grab this pair of strong stories now – you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

CD cover of audiobook How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon | Read by Cherise Boothe, Shari Peele, Kevin R. Free, Patricia R. Floyd, Avery Glymph, Korey Jackson, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Peter Jay Fernandez, Ezra Knight, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Brian Hutchinson Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com How It Went Down (download here June 16-22)
by Kekla Magoon
Read by Cherise Boothe, Shari Peele, Kevin R. Free, Patricia R. Floyd, Avery Glymph, Korey Jackson, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Peter Jay Fernandez, Ezra Knight, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Brian Hutchinson
Published by Recorded Books

I recommended this many-voiced story in early 2015 here – still relevant, alas still being repeated.

Black teen Tariq is shot by white Jack – now police, neighbors, family, and friends of both men try to untangle this not-so-simple tale.

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (download here June 16-22)CD cover of audiobook Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson | Read by Alan Bomar Jones Published by Tantor Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by James Weldon Johnson
Read by Alan Bomar Jones
Published by Tantor Media

As the first fictionalized memoir published by a black author, this compelling look at the life and travails of a biracial man strongly influenced many authors of the Harlem Renaissance and rings true today.

How can fiction help us reflect on real life?
**kmm