Book Review: Watch Us Rise

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by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan

    Publication Date:
    List Price: $18.99 (store prices may vary)
    Format: Hardcover
    Classification: Children’s
    Page Count: 400
    ISBN13: 9781547600083
    Imprint: Bloomsbury YA
    Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
    Parent Company: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

    Read a Description of Watch Us Rise



    Book Reviewed by Vanessa Vanzie


    Oh, to go back in time when life was simpler and filled with of fun, friends and family. Reminiscing on all the highs of your first crush and lows of your first heartbreak. Trying to be unique and cool all at the same time while recreating a better version of yourself is no small feat for any teenager. The joy of forming strong bonds with your besties is what keeps you afloat in a sea of unknown possibilities. Recalling the courage you had to stand and fight for great causes made you the change agent this world needs. This coming of age novel, Watch Us Rise, by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan, highlights the friendship of remarkable teens who have all these experiences and more. One little spark ignites a passionate fuse of social justice campaigns that rocks a high school community to its core.

    Teachers and administrators of a New York City high school are not fully equipped to insulate its students from a world that discriminates, harasses and bullies. The infestation of sexist practices has seeped into the high school community and a dynamic feminist duo incorporate the help of their close friends to champion against the injustice. The resourceful teens use their natural talents as illustrators and poets to bring awareness to the student body and the surrounding community. Although there is push back from some teachers and students alike, a trusted bookstore owner and other supportive teachers rally around the cause of the teens.

    Often times the follies of youth can complicate good intentions. In an attempt to change the school environment, our overzealous teens may have bent one to many rules. Aside from trying to save the world the teens still deal with personal struggles. Like all teens, this set is not exempt from worrying about professing love to a crush, fitting in, negative body image, and the death of a parent.

    Although many pressing topics are addressed, there are so many more left to be told. It would require several volumes of an encyclopedia in order to cover every story that pertains to the high school experience. The author duet chose one prevailing issue and gave their own honest perspectives as it relates to teenage friends from diverse backgrounds who struggle to make their voices heard. This novel is sure to inspire readers to action just from the riveting poems and impassioned illustrations alone. A spirit of resilience is at the heart of this book and any teen or adult will truly enjoy the good read.

    Read Bloomsbury YA’s description of Watch Us Rise.