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Blog Tour: Girlhood – Teenagers From Around the World in Their Own Voices

Synopsis

What do the lives of teenage girls look like in Cambodia and Kenya, in Mongolia and the Midwest? What do they worry about and dream of? What happens on an ordinary day?
 
All around the world, girls are going to school, working, creating, living as sisters, daughters, friends. Yet we know so little about their daily lives. We hear about a few exceptional girls who make headlines, and we hear about headline-making struggles and catastrophes. But since the health, education, and success of girls so often determines the future of a community, why don’t we know more about what life is like for the ordinary girls, the ones living outside the headlines? From the Americas to Europe to Africa to Asia to the South Pacific, the thirty-one teens from twenty-nine countries in Girlhood Around the World share their own stories of growing up through diary entries and photographs. They invite us into their day-to-day lives, through their eyes and in their voices, in a full-color, exuberantly designed scrapbook-like volume. 


My Review

This is a colorful anthology that gives you a glimpse into the lives of teenage girls from all over the world. From as far away as Kazakhstan to as close to home as Bayonne, New Jersey, we get to see these girls’ hopes, their dreams, their aspirations. Ahuja includes maps and statistics for each country showing the challenges faced by women in those societies. The personal journal entries allows you to hear each girl’s perspective and what she values most in life. Teenage girls will see that despite the differences there are many shared experiences. It is a wonderful to show young girls that they are not alone and that they have it in them to persist and rise above the challenges they face.

I started reading Girlhood with my 9 year old daughter. I wanted her to see how other girls from around the world lived. Although she enjoyed the first few stories, I soon realized that some of these girls’ experiences were beyond her scope and maturity level. These were conversations that I was not ready to have with my daughter just yet. As a woman though, I am grateful that this anthology exists and wish that it was available when I was a teenager.

That being said, I think this book would serve well as either a social studies or writing text. Middle school girls would benefit from having this as part of their curriculum.

Special thanks to Amanda Dissinger for access to this title.


Meet the Author

Masuma Ahuja is a freelance journalist reporting on gender, migration and human rights. She was previously a producer at CNN and national digital editor at the Washington Post. She uses words, photos and emerging media to report and tell stories about gender, migration and the impact of politics of people. Her projects have ranged from long-form stories to sending disposable cameras to women around the world to document their days to crowdsourcing voice mails from Americans about the impact of the 2016 election on their lives. She was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014.

Throwback Thursday #3

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.


This week I decided to choose a nonfiction book – The World Between Two Covers – as this is Nonfiction November. What excited me about this book was that it broadened my horizons. It made me purposely search out books in translation and from different perspectives. Back then over 90% of my reading was mystery/thrillers from older white men. This year 90% of my books read were women and POC.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Review

When I first picked up this book I was excited about the concept of reading texts from all across the world. I could already envision myself with sails cast traveling figuratively to unknown lands. In my mind’s eye I saw clearly the vast array of colors that enveloped the people; could almost taste the exotic food as the aroma of culinary delights wafted into my nose. From looking at the cover, I expected Ann Morgan, “Blogger Extraordinaire”, to include us on her literary adventures. I expected this book to delve into the “The 196 ( . . . AND Kurdistan)” with delightful anecdotes of far-away lands. I supposed it might be a foray into ethnic studies reminiscent of my cultural anthropology classes in college. Ah but alas – One should never judge a book by its cover. What a found between these two covers (pun intended) was a thorough research endeavor in which Morgan painstakingly sought out, found, and was gifted texts from around the world. Indeed some texts had not yet been translated into English and others not even published.


In this global economy that we live in where we can Skype with someone clear across the other side of the world, one might think that Ann Morgan’s endeavor were a simple feat. Over the course of 12 chapters she outlines why we are not as globally minded as we might think we are and the obstacles that stand in the way of authors and readers alike trying to connect across cultures. From the Eurocentrism evident not only in our choice of literary canons, but also in our construction of maps that color how we perceive the world — to the “translation bottleneck” that determines which books even have a chance of reaching the Anglophone reader, Morgan’s thorough analysis is both eye opening and soul searching.

This review originally appeared on my GoodReads page August 4, 2015


Throwback Pic

This photo, Frida Kahlo on White Bench, was taken by Hungarian photographer Nickolas Muray in New York, 1939. The pair are said to have had a decades long love affair.

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

Blog Tour: Foreshadow

fore·shad·ow
/fôrˈSHadō/
verb
to predict something or to give a hint of what is to come.

Foreshadow was originally an online literary project that featured new and emerging authors from marginalized groups. Each of their stories is introduced here by some of the most highly recognized and beloved voices in YA today. Following each tale is a brief glimpse into the writer’s mind:

  • What myths are incorporated into their stories and why?
  • Why the story is narrated in first person or second person voice and how does this change how the audience views the characters?
  • The importance of humor in driving the story.

At the end of each tale editors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma add their analysis. This look into the writing process and how it informs the writing style is eye-opening and adds another depth of understanding to the work. Foreshadow goes further to include writing prompts for the audience based on some of the stories.

This anthology had a vast array of genres and facets of life. Overall Foreshadow was clever and magical and uplifting. I personally found it refreshing to see girls and women given so much freedom to be who they are and exercise their power and gifts. I can see and would hope that high school teachers would include this book as part of their curriculum. I hope that the authors and editors realize their goal of “foreshadowing” where the landscape of YA fiction is going. We certainly need more of these new voices and their stories.


Meet the Editors

Nova Ren Suma is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us, which was an Edgar Award finalist. She also wrote Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone and is co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and teaches writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts and the University of Pennsylvania. Originally from the Hudson Valley, she spent most of her adult life in New York City and now lives in Philadelphia.

Emily X.R. Pan is the New York Times bestselling author of The Astonishing Color of After, which won the APALA Honor Award and the Walter Honor Award, received six starred reviews, was an LA Times Book Prize finalist, and was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit Emily online at exrpan.com, and find her on Twitter and Instagram: @exrpan.

A revelatory reimagining of the slave narrative

Frannie Langton is a mulatta woman in 19th century England being tried for the murder of her master and his wife. She protests her innocence but gives us Confessions as her accounting. Gothic in style, The Confessions of Frannie Langton turns the typical slave narrative on its head. Although our protagonist makes it a point to say that she does not want to focus on the abomination that is slavery her testimony makes it hard to overlook these atrocities.

I could not help but make comparisons to Edugyan’s Washington Black. The parallels that I saw between the two books were:

Both looked at science and discovery in the 1800’s and how the scientific method was both driven by and overlooked because of racial prejudice.
Both protagonists are unaware of their mother’s identity until they reach adulthood. Each faces the inherent abandonment issues of motherless children – the trauma suffered by the separation of families and loss of identity. In addition both Frannie and Washington must deal with the guilt and horror of the sins committed against these parents when they knew not who these women were, all at once realizing the supreme sacrifice that each of their mothers gave.
Both were enamored with their enslaver. In the case of Washington it was Titsch. He simply could not see his faults or how he was being used for Titsch’s own ends. He was more naive then Frannie and didn’t come to realize that he was not valued or appreciated in the sense that he wanted to be. For Frannie it is her mistress whom she falls in love with. She gets her addicted to laudanum and takes advantage of her position. The old story of master raping and manipulating his slaves is well known and often seen in literature. Although we recognize that power is a potent intoxicating drug, we often don’t consider that power is power regardless of who is wielding the sword.

Now Frannie is not innocent by any means. She has had her hands dirty and has committed her own crimes. Frannie also admits to being angry and how this anger has subsumed her and followed her throughout her life. But in the end The Confessions of Frannie Langton is about taking power over your own voice. This was evident when “Lightning Laddy” was relaying a story his mother told him as a child about the Asiki. The Asiki were changelings – African children stolen and transformed by witches so that not only their appearance changed but that they also lost their ability to talk along with their memories. The question posed was “What would they tell us if they did have tongues?”  What of the exceptional Negro? Do they suffer the same as every other black? Are they used as pawns to perpetuate stereotypes and racist agenda? To answer those “well meaning” white abolitionists who bind the African by their stunted definitions and implicit racism Laddy Lightning replies: “Here’s the rub. You asking me to speak for them. How can I? Why have you asked me? Because you look at a single black man and see all black men. As if one black man is representative of every member of his race. Allowed neither personality nor passion.”

There were so many parts of this book that moved me. Both the language and the content were stirring. I am impressed. Bold. Absolutely refreshing.