Friday, February 4, 2011

Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Latte Rebellion sticks with me. Asha is a character so likable and believable, that I keep wondering what she's up to now, three weeks after I finished the novel.

I picked up Sarah Jamila Stevenson's book at the ALA conference in San Diego. I started it in my hotel room before falling asleep, and I finished it on the plane ride home.

The first couple pages sucked me right in. Asha and her feisty best friend stand up for themselves against racial slurs, and their stance inspires a crazy money-making scheme to sell t-shirts with the Latte Rebellion logo as a statement of solidarity for "brown" people everywhere who don't fit easily into any categorized "group."

I loved the premise.

Then the scheme seems to fall into the less noble cause of funding the two girls' after-graduation vacation. For awhile I thought what, this book is about two suburban girls' struggle to earn money for a vacation? Why should I care?

But before that question could fully form in my head, the conflict had escalated--to racial tension, to friendship tension, to identity tension, to an educational struggle, to battle against expectations, to potential romance, to physical danger, to a very-real and deep daughter-parent confrontation, to possible expulsion-from school, and Asha's whole life is at stake. I cared deeply. And I couldn't put the book down.

Stevenson's pacing parallels the emotion of the book perfectly.

It's a coming-of-age story; it's a story of decidintg to stand for priorities, even in the face of losing friends and lifelong expectations. It's a story of coming into one's own as a girl and as a young woman.

Sarah Jamila Stevenson has created a multi-layered, complex plot, and a character we can't help but want as a friend.

I still wonder what Asha's doing. I loved this book!

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