Wednesday 1 May 2019

Book Review | Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
Published by Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: 21st February 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Links: Goodreads, Amazon, Book Depository



Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women's Rights Club. They post everything online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine's response to the racial macroaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral. But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by online trolls. When things escalate, the principal shuts the club down. Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices—and those of other young women—to be heard.

Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends who strongly believe in women's rights and the fight for equality. Together with their friends, Nadine and Isaac, they create a club that focuses on giving women a voice and fighting the patriarchy of their school one blog post at a time. 

I loved the message behind this book. It reinforces everything that I believe in and reminded me exactly why I identify as a feminist. It fights back against racism, sexual assault and people trying to quiten your voice. It's a really empowering book for women who are discovering who they are and what they stand for.

I loved the character of Jasmine. She's a black teenager who doesn't shy away from calling herself anything but fat (because no, it's not a word that people should be ashamed of using) and loves theatre and learning about her heritage. She embraces who she is and how she looks, her race and culture and isn't afraid to defend herself to her friends. She's a great character who is also going through a lot of grief with her dad's cancer diagnosis, having lost my mum a few months ago these scenes were emotional to read but incredibly realistic and well written. 

However this is a dual POV book and I did have some issues with the other main character Chelsea. She's a poet who is very outspoken and very focused on fighting for women's rights. Her character often came across as very self-absorbed, often ignoring other's issues and instead focusing on herself. She's not very sensitive to other's feelings displayed when she essentially ignores the fact that her and Jasmine have very different body types. There were times when I wanted to strangle her for saying that women who cook, wear makeup and are interested in fashion are all enforcing gender stereotypes. She seems to believe that there is only one type of feminist and gets angry when other's don't agree with her views.

There were also times in the book where I felt the author had good intentions but essentially ended up still not understanding the basics of what feminism is. The book repeats the idea that young girls shouldn't have princesses as role models and instead should be focusing on striving to be CEO's and scientists. Whilst it's great to promote women in business and leading roles, the whole idea of feminism is equality. We shouldn't be telling young girls they have to be a certain way or that they're not allowed to enjoy certain things. Young girls can want to dress up as princesses and still enjoy sports and science. There were just a few times in the book when it became preachy and hypocritical which I didn't appreciate.

Whilst this book had some inspiring messages regarding body positivity and the issues Jasmine faces as a young black women, Chelsea's character and her take on women's rights often didn't sit right with me and I often wished the whole book was just in Jasmine's POV. This book also includes a lot of poetry in the form of blog posts which whilst not usually my kind of thing, I actually really enjoyed reading.

Rating: 3/5 Stars. 

Read if you like: Books about feminism and women's rights, young girls finding their voices, New York.  


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