Discrimination of the World… NOT Just in Our Backyard

Discriminatory harrassment is one of the very real, very big faults that our society faces on a regular basis today. However, discriminatory violence and negativity are not only in the hands of the United States in particular but are an issue all across the world. Within the young adult novel, In Search of Happiness by Sonwabiso Ngcai, the life of a young girl named Nanase, also known as Nana, is followed as she embarks on some of the most difficult yet rewarding journeys of her young life. After living away from her closest family, Nana moves from Mpozia to the city of Masiphumelele in hopes of getting more opportunity for her future. Along this journey, Nana quickly realizes that all people are in fact not created or viewed as equals in South Africa. A very big message for young readers that is tackled face first in this well-written novel.


Nana moves in next to two young neighbors, neither are of South African descent, and as a result, they are viewed in a very negative light by the individuals of the community. When she first reaches her new home, Nana is able to see the hatred and discrimination unfold in front of her eyes, involving a person that she just met. Only shortly after she introduced herself to the young Zimbabwean neighbor boy named Chino, she hears a lot of commotion outside of her new home. The neighbor boy Chino is taken away aggressively by the police officers of Cape Town. As young Chino is detained by the police officers, young Nana begins to openly question why they are being treated so much differently by the people in Cape Town just because they are not native to South Africa. She reflects upon the situation expressing, “My thoughts travel to the neighbours from Zimbabwe, especially Chino, the kind one. How can the other, South African, neighbours be so openly unkind? And the police, showing no mercy?” (Ngcai, Chapter 6 Ndikwicala likaChino). This very open, very upfront representation of discrimination based on country of origin I find to be a very difficult, yet powerful portion of this novel. Having the very descriptive text regarding open discrimination of individuals right in front of members of the community allows young adults to see that this is a very real issue in the society they live in. I find this to be a very strong aspect of the novel that can pull the reader in and allows the novel to become much more personal in context by addressing real life issues head-on without romanticizing the situations at hand.  But instead asks the young people to consider their actions and consider why discrimination towards particular groups exists in society.


However, this is not to say that ethnic discrimination is the only form of discrimination that is addressed within the novel, that would be far too simple. Another very important societal discrimination issue is outlined later in the novel. After experiencing her first days of school, which turned out to be much different than she had expected, Nana’s life begins to quickly change forever. She meets the second member of the Zimbabwean neighbor duo; her name is Agnes. This is when the powerful messages within this novel go from good, to great in a seemingly quick manner. Although many people in the community disapprove of Chino and Agnes because they are not native South Africans, Nana’s compassionate and open heart sees them for so much more than just a foreign threat, especially when it comes to Agnes. It is with a little bit of time, and a lot of self-evaluation that Nana realizes that she loves Agnes, and another big social issue is opened up within the novel. In the beginning of the book, it was already made fairly obvious to the reader that Nana wasn’t just like all of the other little girls. She spent a lot of time hanging out with boys, and much preferred to be friends with the boys in her home of Mpozia. But it is when love comes into the picture that people’s feelings towards Nana begin to shift, solely because of who she loves. The struggles and hardships that the LGBTQ community face on an everyday basis, not only by members of society, but also by members of their family are clearly outlined in the remainder of the novel. A point that I find to be very difficult to portray and express successfully, but extremely well done in this case. When young Nana tells her family and members of the community how she feels about Agnes, her feelings are viewed as wrong, and upsetting. This is a very emotional depiction of what happens to individuals when they do not line up with societal norms. This book supports and validates the feelings associated with the homosexual relationship, validating that having feelings outside of the social expectation is perfectly okay, even if it comes with challenges. Nana leaves the readers with a very powerful statement regarding her love of Agnes despite the social dismay that it may cause. “Yes, our love may be hidden, but it is strong. It can still bring happiness” (Ngcai, Chapter 20 Kunye).


Overall, this novel did an excellent job attacking the social injustices of discrimination within South African communities in a very clear, descriptive, and public way. In order to foster the thought and change that young minds can bring to the world, they must be informed of the issues at hand. With this novel, although at some points it is emotional and challenging to read and accept, it is very real and it inspires a change that I personally have never experienced in a novel I have read before. It inspires the reader to love everyone for who they are, not where they come from or who they love. An emotionally captivating novel that really makes you consider the society that you are creating.


Works Cited

Ngcowa, Sonwabiso. In Search of Happiness.. [VitalSource]. Cover2Cover Books. 2014.


**This book was purchased as an E-Book on of which did not include page numbers, but only had the novel in a chapter-by-chapter format. That is why you will see the chapter number and title in the quote citations as opposed to the page number**

The Global Literature In Libraries Initiative

The past couple of years have been great for the inclusion of Japanese literature in the global young adult literature genre. This year, that success continued with the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative which awarded “My Brother’s Husband” their annual Global Literature in Libraries (GLLI) Translated YA Book Prize.

“My Brother’s Husband” is a translated manga focusing on silencing homophobic views in Japan culture. It focuses on a young daughter and her father, along with her father’s deceased brother’s husband. Unfortunately, homophobic views are still common in Japan, which is one of the reasons this award is so significant. Of the novels that focus on homophobia,  most only focus on the male perspective, or solely focus on the adult romance genre. The author writes, “I wanted to write a gay-themed story meant for every age group, because gay issues are clearly not limited to adults; they affect everyone in society.” (Kittaka, 2019)

While this award is certainly a landmark for young adult literature in Japan, it more clearly exemplifies the importance of international youth literature organizations, such as the GLLI. The GLLI is an international organization founded upon a guiding principle to raise global awareness and accessibility to international YA literature.

One of the main problems with foreign youth literature availability is the staunch lack of translated novels in libraries at home and around the world. “Somewhere around two percent of books published for young readers in the U.S. are translations.” (Miller-Lachmann, 2016) Without translated novels, how ever can these books work to influence readers? How many readers are missing out on valuable lessons because of a lack of translated novels?

According to the GLLI, one of the primary ways we can address this issue is at its source. They, “intend to do so by facilitating close and direct collaboration between translators and librarians, because we believe translators are uniquely positioned to help librarians provide support and events to engage readers of all ages in a library framework that explores and celebrates literature from around the world.” (Miller-Lachmann, 2016) The GLLI works at multiple levels, from the local community to the global publishing community. By doing this, they are able to encourage and promote translated literature directly to the readers.

In conclusion, international YA literature is an important part of society and plays an instrumental role in the lives of youth around the world. Through reading these novels, children are able to expand their horizons and connect/identify with communities around the world. In an age of ever increasing connectivity between countries, this should be of primary importance. However, many youth around the world are prevented from reading these novels because of the vast lack of translated YA novels. Luckily, organizations such as the GLLI are trying to change this. Through their initiatives, specifically the Translated YA Book Award, they are increasing global awareness to these novels and working to develop and foster interest from young adults around the world.


Kittaka, L. (2019, March 9). ‘My Brother’s Husband’: Young adult literature from Japan attracts a new global audience. Retrieved April 22, 2019, from

Miller-Lachmann, L. (2016, June 8). The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative. Retrieved April 22, 2019, from

Book Review: Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

If you enjoy stories that include themes of both loyalty and death, love and hate, and ultimately friendships and betrayal, then Battle Royale by Koushun Takami is a novel you will surely enjoy. In this action-packed thriller, author Koushun Takami will take you, the reader, on a gut wrenching ride that will leave you exhausted by its finish.

The novel begins on a bus, following a high school Junior named Shuya Nanahara. While initially we learn they are departing on a school field trip, things take a turn for the worst very quickly. While his classmates begin to lose consciousness around him, Shuya fights to keep his eyes open. Just before falling asleep, he sees an unknown man enter the bus. Something was wrong.

We come to learn that Shuya’s class has been picked for the years “program”. Unfortunately for the class, this was not an educational program like they anticipated. Instead, this government program forces the students to fight. For this program, officially known as “Battle Experiment No. 68 program, fifty third year junior high school classes are forced to fight each other to death on an isolated island until only one student remains alive. They are given a weapon, which varies for each player, and a small supply of food and water. Then, they are released into the island where the fight for survival begins.

Program n. 1. A listing of the order of events and other information […] 4. A battle simulation program conducted by our nation’s ground defense forces, instituted for security reasons. Officially known as Battle Experiment No. 68 Program. The first program was held in 1947. Fifty third-year junior high school classes are selected annually (prior to 1950, 47 classes were selected) to conduct the Program for research purposes. Classmates in each class are forced to fight until one survivor is left. Results from this experiment, including the elapsed time, are entered as data. The final survivor of each class (the winner) is provided with a lifetime pension and a card autographed by The Great Dictator. In reaction to protests and agitation caused by extremists during the first year of its enactment, the 317th Great Dictator gave his famous April Speech.’ ” (Takami, 25)

As typical in battle royale stories like this, specifically The Hunger Games, upon release into the “arena” there are many different strategies that the players take. Some, like Yoshio Akamatsu, immediately begin to kill without any remorse. Others however, like Shuya, Shogo, and Noriko attempt to form an alliance in hopes of finding a way out.

With at least one death required every 24 hours, there is no shortage of action and death in this novel. However, hidden between bouts of blood and death, author Koushun Takami is brilliantly able to weave in stories of love and friendship. Upon entering the island, we meet Sakura Ogawa and Kazuhiko Yamamoto, two classmates who are in a relationship. In order to avoid the possibility of needing to harm each other, they both grab hands and leap off a cliff to their deaths. In this defying act, questions about the power of love in the lives of young adults are silenced.

As the number of students quickly begins to drop, Shuya and Noriko learn that Shogo was actually the winner of last year’s program. Thus, they quickly turn to him for help finding a way off of the remote island. He informs them that they collars they are being forced to wear have embedded microphones and that any and all communication should be done in writing to avoid having their plan thwarted by the government.

Shuya and Noriko both had one plan. Get off the island without having to kill each other. However, that would be easier said than done. But, thanks to the knowledge Shogo had gained from successfully beating the program in the past, they come up with an idea. If they are able to remove the collars, they might be able to fake their death and make a run for it.

After all the remaining participants were eliminated, excluding Shogo, Noriko, and Shuya, Shogo fired a fake shot into the air. Immediately following this shot, he removed the collars from Shuya and Noriko’s necks. This they hoped, would trick the government into thinking they were dead.

They were right. Sort of. Following the final announcement, Shogo is taken on a ship to go back home. As he heads out to sea, we learn that they hadn’t deceived the government and that the program coordinator, Skamochi, knew what Shogo had done. Ultimately, this would lead to Shogo and Skamochi’s death.

In the end, we learn that Shuya and Noriko have become wanted by the government. Our last scene follows them as they begin running away from a policeman who had identified the two runaways, leaving the reader questioning what will happen to them. However, if Koushun Takami was able to teach us anything throughout the novel, it’s that these two are not going to go down without a fight.

After closing the book for the final time, I was struck by the wide range of emotions I had just experienced and how effortlessly author Koushun Takami was able to guide me through them. While some readers may turn away from young adult novels for a lack of substance, I found this novel was a truly unique entry into the genre. Ultimately, this novel was able to impart a level of maturity onto the young characters like I had not experienced before. By doing this, Takami is able to successfully portray the lessons he wants in a truly meaningful way. Whether it be lessons on working together to forge off seemingly unbeatable opponents or on the often overlooked power of love in young adults, I was both surprised and pleased to walk away with a different point of view than I had upon beginning this eye opening work of fiction.


Takami, K. (2003). Battle Royale (Y. Oniki, Trans.). San Francisco, CA: Viz Media, LLC.

To Translate or Not To Translate

YA Literature: Translations

It is agreeable that with Young Adult fiction it is important to branch out to all cultures and races. It raises an opportunity to connect and learn, at a young age, parts of societies we are not subjected to in our daily routines. When reading YA fiction for a class this semester, I learned a lot about the importance of diversity, but I wondered about the novels not primarily written for the English language, and vice versa. In “Get Genrefied: YA Books in Translation” Kelly (2014) suggests translated books“are expert for a reason: they allow the original author’s writing and storytelling to shine through. Though the themes or the appeal of the book may be universal, the magic of reading a title in translation is experiencing that universality” (para. 4). The blog post goes into detailed accounts of translators who were under credited for how much work it really takes to recreate a novel between languages, while trying to keep up with the author’s original tone and phraseology. However, it is nearly impossible to get it perfect. If a novel is written in English and translated into another language, the rules of the language are completely altered. “Translating Young Adult Literature: Problems and Strategies” by GRIGUȚĂ LOANA-DORA, explains that though some things can be literally translation, cultural slang words, curse words, allusions, recognition of places and people, are hard to learn without ruining the reader’s understanding, while also trying to keep the same impact of the original novel (LOANA-DORA, 2013). LOANA-DORA explains that there’s a tug a war with domestication, “…strategies whereby the text is adapted to the culture of the target audience, thus being made for accessible,” and foreignization, “keeping the elements from the original culture so as to give local colour to the text and make it more exotic” (LOANA-DORA, 19). Both of these tactics, no matter how skillfully achieved, are already altering the novel because they don’t have to be done in order for the targeted audience to understand. This makes me question if it’s better to have an altered version rather than no version? I almost feel like the original version is an authentic Chinese dinner, and the translation is Panda Express. Not that I don’t love Panda Express, but it will never be as authentic. LOANA-DORA uses the term “cultural equivalent” in which translators will use at times for comprehension of a “similar impact, but not the original” (LOANA-DORA, 24). This tactic is entirely up to the translator and is mostly used on cultural influences and customs like food, sports, institutions, famous people, or government “ (LOANA-DORA, 2013). This can also be a problem because it’s taking away parts of that culture in return for a better understanding. YA books, that are already written by a different culture for another, consider the “foreignness” to the reader, and add extra information about it rather than cutting it entirely. I also assume that money and marketing have a lot to do with which books are chosen, or able to be translated. “Translating Young Adult Literature” uses Romanian translation as an example because their marketing system is completely different than the United States. They are said to have a “lack of marketing from the part of publishing companies,” meaning they don’t make enough money off of books so instead, “most of them are popular translations of popular books which have been turned into blockbuster movies” (LOANA-DORA, 15). Book to movie version, is a whole different topic in itself, and also ties into not fully grasping the original impact for the targeted audience. Subcultures change daily. Language changes daily. How we grow up in certain environments creates a different understanding from everyone else in the world. Communication is important, and I do believe as young adults we should be well versed in different types of literature, but how much is to be given up for our understanding?


Kelly. (2014, November 3). “Get Genrefied: YA Books in Translation.” Stacked. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

LOANA-DORA, GRIGUȚĂ. (2013, July). Translating Young Adult Literature: Problems and Strategies. (Unpublished master’s thesis). Department of Applied Modern Languages. BABEŞ-BOLYAI UNIVERSITY, CLUJ-NAPOCA.

Words In Deep Blue Review

Cath Crowley’s novel Words in Deep Blue is a fiction book written from the two perspectives of main characters Rachel and Henry. Rachel returns to her hometown Gracetown, after three years, due to the death of her brother in Sea Ridge, where she shared a home with him and their mother. Already within the first chapter there’s a story-line of death in the family, along with having to face Henry, after three years of no communication, due to an unanswered love letter, she wrote to him in the lines of his favorite poem. Henry, on top of being heartbroken over the love of his life Amy, confused as to why Rachel has ignored him for three years, is also dealing with his family’s dilemma of whether or not to sell their book shop. His father bought the book shop twenty years prior, but is now struggling to compete with the new digital age. Rachel’s aunt Rose, whom she moves in with, forces her to get a summer job at the book shop, meaning she will not only have to worry about bumping into Henry, but also working with him multiple days a week. If you’re a sucker for a triad of love, loss, and literature, this is a must read.


In the book shop there is a section called the “Letters Library.” Anyone can leave anonymous letters to each other and put them back on the shelf. The book and poem choices are definitely not a random selection of the author. The three main ones, throughout the whole story are, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot, and Pride Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. In my opinion they are a statement that the world needs both literature and science. We need the great scientists just as much as we need the great poets. Whos to say Hemingway and Darwin couldn’t of been friends? Imagine the conversation at that dinner table.


These books does tie perfectly into the contrast between Henry and Rachel’s personalities. She tends to lean towards practical and scientific attributes, while Henry is pretty much an emotional embodiment of all the poetry and books he’s read. Which, you can’t really blame the guy being raised in a bookshop. As well as you can’t blame Rachel for her skepticism, from everything she’s going through. Everyone must go through the loss of a loved one, or someone close to them, at some point in their lives. We see how the death of Rachel’s brother Cal affects everyone differently, specifically Rachel and her Mother. Rachel, having failed her senior year of high school due to this loss, spends her summer questioning life and death. Most importantly, how to move on and cope when the whole world keeps going, whether you’re ready or not.


Going back to the dilemma Henry’s family is having at selling the book shop, we get this understanding, especially in our day in age, of how hard copies, especially second-hand copies, are not doing so well in competing with other, more readily available copies, in our age of technological reliance. I believe Crowley is using this side-plot to make a statement on just how important books and words are. In relation to the Letter Library, you can’t share that kind of history on a downloaded IBook. In relation to the books chosen, Cloud Atlas is a science fiction book, that relies on passed down lifetimes and documentation, to understand the communal ending. Pride Prejudice and Zombies, yes a modernized and sci-fi based, could not have been made without Jane Austen. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” though not mixing science with literature like the others, is loaded. The author is explains love in bits and pieces of other people, with multiple themes of time, being stuck, and not wanting things to change. The end is actually quite sad. In my opinion, I love the allusions that all of these works bring to the table, in relation to the overall message of the book, but If someone were to have not read them, I don’t think it would impact them as strongly as someone who has. There’s also a subtle mention of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury which, shocker, is about what happens to society when there are no books. In terms of what was left out, I think it could have been more noted that evolution of technology is not so much a bad thing.


I think everything is leading up to the overall message that we need words and books and literature. No matter how outdated books get, we live on in the words. We grow up and we learn to read and write. When we die the words remain, to affect another person, and another, and so on.  Words are communication. Words are how we created laws, famous speeches that moved people, songs and poems for lovers. Words affect us, they sometimes sting, sometimes they’re sweet, but overall they make us feel something. Rachel was numb until she came back to the bookshop and started working with Henry. Unable to continue her life because she had shut down and turned cynical. Henry reacted to everything like Shakespeare after a couple shots of tequila. So emotional that it blinded him from the truth of many things he had once thought, then Rachel came back and pulled his head out of the clouds. Both extremes were no good, but together, like poetry and science, balance out the scale. I think they both learned how to pick up the pieces and that change and growth is necessary. Everything is built off of the past, but that doesn’t mean we stay in it too. They both learned that you can’t hold onto something for so long that it affects you from living your life. The whole point of science and literature is that we needed the original theories or books, in order to build up to what we have today.


Crowley, Cath. “Words In Deep Blue.” Random House Children’s Books. 2016.

Exploring Suicidal Themes in Japanese YA literature

The Japanese have had a persistent problem with suicide. Built on honor, Japan’s strict culture and values have encouraged many Japanese to end ones life (Rich and Makiko). In 2017, suicide among young people rose to their highest in three decades (Rich and Makiko). A total of 250 elementary, middle, and high school children committed suicide in just the last year (Rich and Makiko). Like I said, suicide has been an issue for many years, so what does the literature have to say? I really could not find any young adult Japanese literature on suicide. I think this proves an opportunity for Japanese authors to fill this void. There are many American YA novels on suicide including: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, It’s Kind of A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, and The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbowsky. All of which explore teens struggling with a dark, mental battle. I think many Japanese young adults could benefit from reading these.

Work Cited:

Rich, Motoko and Makiko Inouo. “Suicides Among Japanese Children Reach Highest Level in Three Decades”. New York: New York Times, 2019.

Blog Post

I was able to read and evaluate a scholarly article by Laretta Henderson regarding the styles and forms of young adult literature in Africa, and how those aspects of literature either help or hinder young adults in Africa’s abilities to effectively read and understand adult aimed literature as well. Within the article The Black Arts Movement and African American Young Adult Literature: An Evaluation of Narrative Style, the author makes an endless variety of arguments expressing her dislike for how young adult literature is created within African texts, and furthermore, how those particular differences may not be fueled by the authors themselves, but more so by the contributors of those novels including people like editors/publishers and critics.

As she evaluates the issues within African young adult literature, she makes the very clear statement explaining, “To believe that authors bear the sole responsibility for their texts is to
allow editors and publishers, who are usually European American, to
remain invisible” (Henderson, 313). It is with this that I begin to critically consider who may be deemed responsible for the lack of true diversity within other international regions of young adult literature. With the argument of who is in the most control of the content of young adult novels in Africa, she uncovers a variety of different responsibilities and factors that go into what publishers and editors must keep in mind when putting literature out on the market. From an ethical, business, and purely entertainment based standpoint, young adult African books must pass a seemingly endless list of criteria in order to do well on the market. As a result of these things, Henderson argues that young adults within African countries are inevitably unable to effectively understand adult literature when they get older because the literature they consume at their high development periods is so skewed in order to be effective in the market (Henderson, 2005).

It is with the reading of this article that I can not help but to consider how much of international young adult literature is truly emulating the real, hearty cultures of the people in which the literature is intended for. With that, I also am left to consider how much Euro/American influence is being unnecessarily implemented and essentially forced into international works intended for the young adult audience. Considering Henderson’s arguments evaluating how the results of the extremely formulaic, nearly linear narration line of African young adult literature, it is quite shocking to really consider how much of an influence that other cultures pose on the abilities of international literature to succeed. Just to think of how much of the view of African culture we are missing out on in these young adult pieces is a very monopolized, and even disrespectful way of oppressing the culture of Africa. Especially in regard to a young adult of which should be empowered to embrace and share their culture with the world. The idea of adjusting and limiting international literature pieces is surely something that I will keep in mind when exploring international texts in the future. Every culture should be celebrated, and shared with the world, and in no sense should young minds be hindered from appreciating and fully respecting African culture, or any other culture around the world for that matter.

Works Cited

Henderson, Laretta. “The Black Arts Movement and African American Young Adult Literature: An Evaluation of Narrative Style”. Children’s Literature in Education, vo. 36, no. 4, Dec. 1 2005.

“Take Three Girls” by Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood, and Simmone Howell

Cyber-bullying in high school? These days? Nawwww. Never. Sense the sarcasm? Well you should because cyber-bullying is becoming as real as ever at St. Hilda’s private school. Almost everyone at St. Hilda’s has social media and smartphones (like everyone else in this world), which makes bullying behind a screen even easier. St. Hilda school girls, Kate, Clem, and Ady, quickly become targets on a cyber-bullying site called PSST. Who knows why this site exists, but it sure does get the job done, because there is more drama and insecurities than ever lurking this elite boarding school. Not only does this novel capture how to deal with cyber-bullying but it also incorporates themes of friendship, feminism, self-love, and much more.

Ady, Clem, and Kate initially don’t have a lot in common. The only thing they have is common is that they go to the same school and they all know of each other. Throughout the story their relationship unfolds, but at the start, they didn’t really know each other.

Adelaide, mostly called Ady, is not all she is cracked up to be. Who initially starred as a spoiled, popular, rich girl turns to be a very kind and relatable teenage girl. Her picturesque life and perfect family is going through way more than what everyone sees. Her dad’s health is failing, which has taken a toll on the family’s finances. At first, I thought Ady’s character was going to be portrayed at the Regina George of the Mean Girls friend group, but I was proven otherwise. Ady’s popular friend group is bullied on PSST for having eating disorders and being suicidal. Unlike Regina, Ady is actually a nice person. She sticks up for her friends during this time, providing them empathy to help her friends get through the negativity.

Clem is a super relatable character. Right from the get go, she seems to be the most “normal”. She’s kind of like the all-American (well, all-Australian girl in this case) girl. We all have friends like her or we are her. Her summary in the little excerpt states, “disenchanted, swim-star losing her heart to the wrong boy” (Crowley 4). This was literally me in high school, except replace swim with dance. Along with her bad relationship with Stu (AKA the “wrong boy”), Clem is also struggling with her weight. Don’t we all? After finally taking a break from swimming, Clem has put on a few pounds, which is very typical of a retired athlete. Well, PSST has found a new target, and it’s Clem’s weight. One of the posts was titled, “PSST: Fat Clam’s Walk of Shame” (Crowley 54). Whoever is in charge of this mockery website clearly has issues.

Kate is struggling to choose to pursue a career in music (her passion) or medicine (her parent’s passion for her). Kate is a very indecisive girl, which strikes me as very annoying. There’s one scene where she is debating on whether she should cross the road, which isn’t that hard of a decision, and she stands there for almost a minute, going back and forth with whether she should or not. I can be a little indecisive, but not like that. Holy moly. I just wanted to pull her across the street at one point. She does, however, become more likeable as her character unfolds later on in the novel. Kate ends up following her musical dream. Along the way, she meets this guy named Oliver. Oliver is just as brainy and musically gifted as her, so it’s fun seeing such similar characters hit it off. Kate was the first to get bullied by PSST with the post, “Rate the Borders” (Crowley 47). This caused drama with her and Oliver, go figure, but it did open her up a bit, which I think was needed.

So, what brings these characters together, you ask? A Year 10 Wellness class. This class was supposed to help with all of the drama and bullying, and it actually did. The three girls ended up being in this class together. Once acquaintances, the three girls become the best of friends. They learn to cope with the negative comments on the site and figure out ways to help others tormented by them. They also work together to figure out the evil, master-mind behind it. Does this sound familiar? Gossip Girl, anyone? Pretty Little Liars, who? I’m obviously not going to tell you who’s behind it. You’re just going to have to read it for yourself, but it’s a pretty epic discovery. Not that surprising, but still everything you wanted. In the end, Clem leaves Stu for a better guy. Ady transfers schools, and Clem follows her love for music rather than her parent’s love for medical school. Like many YA novel endings, this one is also a happy one.

Did I mention that three separate authors wrote the book? Pretty incredible, considering the cohesion. Each author wrote from each girl’s point of view. You can see slight differences in the writing styles, but that only builds the character’s of the girls that much more. Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood, and Simone Howell do an amazing job capturing a realistic interpretation of what high school, teen girls experience in this social media world. I would highly recommend added this YA to your list!


Work Cited:

Crowley, Cath, et al. “These Three Girls”. Australia: Pan Australia, 2017.

Book Review: The Deliverer

The Deliverer is a moving piece written by Kwabena Ankomah-Kwakye. It follows Osei Tutu who is the only son of Yaa Mansa Badua. The story foreshadows Osei Tutu’s greatness in a bold quote stating, “when you are born to kill an elephant, you don’t go bruising your knees chasing rats!” (Ankomah-Kwakye, 2011, pg. 11). In the beginning the book opens with his mother being tied to a tree and left for death. She eventually escapes and finds refuge with another family. The family shelters her and she gives birth to Osei. Yaa Mansa Badua dies shortly after leaving her son motherless. As the plot thickens, we hear of a land that is riddled with a disconnect between tribes. Osei is born of the Asante tribe, to which there is a prophecy in which there would be a deliverer of Asante from Denkyira.

Time goes on and Osei faces great hardships. He is born crippled and is resentful and bitter for it. Osei feels he is a burden to everyone, especially his foster father Bonsu. One day, astonishingly, at age thirteen he begins to walk. He never takes this new found miracle for granted, so much so that by the time he is 16 he is the villages most skillful hunter. He gains the respect of many peers due to this. This leads him into trouble however as one day he accidently shoots another mans game. That “other man” turned out to be Kojo Akenten. He was the proclaimed “deliverer” and sentenced Osei to be enslaved and locked away.

Osei nevertheless kept his spirits high and made the best of the circumstances through hard work. He eventually was very well respected both by the other slaves, and slave holders. This also did not come without a price. Out of jealousy he was stabbed and due to this taken to a herbalist. He is awoken by an assistant named Ama and is instantly in awe of her beauty. Osei eventually fully recovers only to find out that Ama is the princess of Denkyira.

Unavoidably the two are drawn to each other and Ama is very fond of Osei. She convinces the palace to let Osei move in as a royal slave to the family. After reluctance it is agreed upon and the two end up falling madly in love. This is troubling however given that Asante and Denkyira are at much conflict with each other. As if this isn’t enough for these two star-crossed lovers, Ama’s hand in marriage is eventually promised away by the king. She is very distressed over this and wishes to marry Osei. During Ama disclosing all of this to Osei, she makes it known that she wishes for Osei to be the first man she lays in bed with. During this, the guards find him hidden in her room and he is driven from the palace for good while narrowly escaping death.

Ama conceives from the night with Osei, and the man who was promised her hand in marriage refuses once it is known she is pregnant. Meanwhile, Osei is put through test of empathy and integrity passing each one and eventually rewarded with the counsel of the wise Okomofo Anokye. Together they eventually assemble an Asante army. Osei has prophetic dreams of the thrown or “golden stool”. It is perfect timing as the Denkyira tribe has been busy tormenting Asante, overtaking their land and building villages.

Under Osei, the newly formed army begin their endeavors and successfully start to win small battles. Eventually Ama catches wind of this and they are happily reunited. She tells him of his child but the joy is short-lived as they are nations at war with each other. Ama tries to facilitate a peace treaty between the two which eventually backfires as she hears of Denkyira’s plan to sabotage the Asantes army. She is locked up but eventually finds her way back to Osei again and the two are wed in a colorful ceremony. This isn’t before it is discovered that Osei is actually the first son of Otumfuo and thus, the deliverer. He overthrows Kojo yelling “moron, tie him up and bring him along!” (Ankomah-Kwakye, 2011, pg. 76). The same words that Kojo imprisoned Osei with. The Denkyira’s, after 6 years of war, are finally defeated under Osei’s rule. They are eventually seen as Asantes, and not oppressed. The tribes now live in peace, however the book ends in a cliff hangover with a new enemy arising from the South.

All in all, this was a beautifully written book and loosely explored some of the culture and history of Ghana. Historical fiction has the dual benefit of portraying the history while being imaginative and indulging in great story-telling. The overall feel of this novel was very reminiscent of the Alchemist for me. It was an action-packed thriller filled with a swiftly changing plot. I would highly recommend this book as it furthered my cultural understanding of the area and kept me very much interested throughout!

Works Cited

Ankomah-Kwakye, K. (2011). The Deliverer. Sub Saharan.

Book Review: Mine

Mine by Sally Partridge is a novel that tells its story through the eyes of Finlay September and Kayla Murphy, both high schoolers living in Cape Town, South Africa. Finlay’s life is anything but easy. His mother left his family when he was younger and he lives with his abusive father in a poorly kept up house. He spends most of his time smoking weed and playing in a band, Dark Father, which has a decent fan base. Playing music is the only thing that has mattered to him, until he meets Kayla.

Kayla has never felt like she fit into her world. She knows that she is weird, and the Queen bee’s at her school have no problem telling her about how much of a loser she is. Kayla will do anything to not feel lonely, including sleeping with boys she knows does not care about her. The only class she cares about is Music and has the honor of being the only flautist in her school. She crushes on a boy named Sebastian in her music class, but can only admire from afar because she knows that no boy will ever like her back. However, to her surprise, he asks her on a date to the movies. When she shows up for the date, he ends up bringing her to his house instead of the movie theatre. He then walks her to his bedroom and immediately attempts to have sex with her. When she is confused and stops him, he tells her that he thought that’s what she does with every guy. While completely thrown off, she continues to give into what he wants.

Fin agrees to go to a concert with Julia, Brenan’s younger sister. Brenan is his long-time friend and also fellow band member in Dark Father. While Fin has known Julia since she was young and will always view her as Brenan’s little sister, she has grown up and develops a huge crush on Fin. While at the concert, he notices Kayla, the flautist that is playing along with Julia’s best friend, Lorinda. It turns out that Julia and her friends are the Queen bee’s at Kayla’s school and love to make her feel like an unworthy slut. Fin is infatuated by Kayla and asks her on a date. After that, he spends much of his time with her until she agrees to be his girlfriend. While both Kayla and Fin are happier than they have ever been together, Kayla is afraid that Fin will leave her and break her heart.

Kayla believes that she is undeserving of being loved and to be happy. After Fin initially tells her that he loves her, he does not say it again for eight more days. Kayla begins to doubt their relationship and when Craig, a boy from her past that she used to hook up with approaches her, she has sex with him and consequently cheats on Fin. Then, on the ninth day Fin tells her again that he loves her. Eventually, Julia tells Fin what Kayla has done with Craig and Fin breaks up with Kayla.

Both Kayla’s and Fin’s life after the breakup spiral out of control. Kayla becomes destructive to herself and those around her. She goes to the skate park and other places around her neighborhood to purposely engage in dangerous tricks. She even sets fire to the Music building of her school. As more time passes by, she finds friends in a group she meets at the skate park. One of her new friends is Louis, who she knows has a crush on her but she has no interest in him. Fin is kicked out of Dark Father, but begins his journey as a soloist.

Eventually Kayla and Fin get back together after Fin finds Kayla about to jump from a lighthouse to end her life. They embrace and attempt to try their relationship again. However, Kayla is just as insecure, if not more about their relationship. Fin tries his best to show her he cares about her and still loves her. When Fin gets busy with recording his own music and preparing for his big gig, Kayla puts herself back into Louis’ life. She hides from Fin that she has started to see Louis again and even kisses him. Fin finds this out when he reads her diary. They get into a heated argument that ends in Fin accidentally knocking Kayla down. Fin heads to his solo gig and is arrested afterwards because Louis reports that Fin has hit Kayla.

Both Fin and Kayla are angry and insecure through the whole story and continuously act on their impulses. The book shows the degradation of females by entertaining the idea that the only way to be loved is to sleep with people. All Kayla can first focus on his how unlovable she is and after someone good for her comes into her life, she ends up sabotaging the relationship by cheating on him. Then, she becomes furious that Fin “abandons” her and continuously claims that she knew he was going to leave her. They also are both extremely self-destructive, especially Kayla, who inflicts pain on herself whenever she feels emotional or wants to get back at Fin. She freaks out when Fin does not respond to her messages and claims that he is purposely ignoring her and will leave her again. When he begins to leave her, she always apologizes after the fact and when it’s too late. It takes Kayla to be on the edge of a suicide attempt for Fin to listen to her. While I do understand that the author wants to show the roller coaster of emotions an unstable relationship can endure, I would not recommend this book because there is no depth to the characters or story.

Works Cited

Partridge, Sally. Mine. Cape Town, Human & Rousseau, 2018.