Summary and book reviews of Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson

Watch Us Rise

by Renee Watson, Ellen Hagen

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson, Ellen Hagen X
Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson, Ellen Hagen
  • Critics' Opinion:

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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2019, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2020, 368 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jamie Chornoby
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About this Book

Book Summary

Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Renée Watson teams up with poet Ellen Hagan in this YA feminist anthem about raising your voice.

Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends on a mission - they're 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 their work online - poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine's response to the racial microaggressions she experiences - and soon they go viral. But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by trolls. When things escalate in real life, the principal shuts the club down. Not willing to be silenced, Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices - and those of other young women - to be heard.

These two dynamic, creative young women stand up and speak out in a novel that features their compelling art and poetry along with powerful personal journeys that will inspire readers and budding poets, feminists, and activists.

AUGUST
1
JASMINE

I'm a month away from starting my junior year of high school, and I just found out my father only has four months to live.

I don't really hear all of what Mom and Dad are saying. Just the important words like "cancer" and "out of remission" and "stage four."

Chelsea is the first person I call. We've been friends since elementary school. I know once I tell her, she'll tell Nadine and Isaac, which is good because I only want to say it once.

I don't know what I'd do without Chelsea, Nadine, and Isaac. They are the kind of friends who make even the ordinary day fun, who scrape every dollar they can to chip in on a birthday gift. The kind of friends who know the magic of making Rice Krispies Treats, the joy of curling up under blankets to watch back- to- back episodes of a favorite show with bowls of popcorn that we eat as fast as we can and make more. They are the kind of friends that show up at my house— even though I told them not to— to make sure I am okay...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

One of the things I enjoyed most about Watch Us Rise is that the characters are bright, dynamic and complex. [The authors] approach this dual narrative from points of view that are unique, making the voices of Jasmine and Chelsea—who are also simultaneously similar and different in their marginalization—thoughtful and authentic...continued

Full Review (743 words).

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(Reviewed by Jamie Chornoby).

Media Reviews

Washington Post
Watson and Hagan intersperse the girls’ poems and reflective essays throughout the story, and these raw pieces punch at the beauty standard, sexual harassment and gender inequality, at their school and in society. The novel emerges as especially nuanced when the girls must work through occasional self-doubt and a fraught incident in their friendship...a galvanizing, sharply realized example for readers struggling to find their own voices and authentic place in the world.

Publishers Weekly
The most important message is actually more subtle than the girls': by following their convictions, young women have the power to change the world for the better. It's a message, and a story, that any teen could benefit from and enjoy.

Booklist
A refreshingly unapologetic celebration of young women's voices...Readers won't be able to help feeling empowered and uplifted by the end of the novel.

School Library Journal
Starred Review. A highly needed work for the #MeToo movement...Watson and Hagan do not disappoint in this powerful story of two girls who take a stand against injustice while learning how to navigate a world that seeks to silence them.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A manifesto for budding feminists... An inspiring look at two strong-willed teens growing into even stronger young women ready to use their voices and take on the world

Author Blurb Laurie Halse Anderson, New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Speak
This stunning book is the story I've been waiting for my whole life; where girls rise up to claim their space with joy and power.

Author Blurb Brendan Kiely, New York Times bestselling co-author of All American Boys and Tradition
An extraordinary story of two indomitable spirits.

Author Blurb Julie Murphy, New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin'
Timely, thought-provoking, and powerful.

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Beyond the Book

Nonviolent Activism

Martin Luther King Jr. giving the I Have a Dream speech at the 1963 March on WashingtonIn Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan, high school juniors Chelsea and Jasmine learn that "art is never just art," so they decide to "use art to make a statement, to create change." The girls experiment with multiple forms of activism, sometimes with guidance, and even misguidance, from teachers, mentors, community leaders, family and friends. When they connect with Leidy—a guardian of the anarchist, volunteer-run book store Word Up—they engage more deeply with nonviolent activism to enact thoughtful, targeted progress.

Nonviolent activism, also known as nonviolent resistance and nonviolent action, has many definitions and interpretations. Broadly, it is a commitment to using nonviolent and inventive means to ...

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