--By the Hollywood Teen Book Council
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2009 TEDTalk is a powerful statement in how only having one story can perpetuate stereotypes.
We try to read broadly at the Hollywood Teen Book Council and seek out books that will expand our worldview. Whether it is a Chinese immigrant living in Canada, soldiers in an unpopular war, or our preconceptions of cheerleaders, here are three books that surprised us and changed how we saw others.
Midnight at the Dragon Cafe by Judy Fong Bates
Review by Siena Lesher, sophomore
From clothing to teeth to the food you eat, the cultural differences between China and Canada are one that many don’t even consider unless they’re being made fun of it. Su-Jen, who takes the English name “Annie,” leaves communist China with her mom for a hopefully better life in Canada. As she is very young, she begins to subtly assimilate into Western culture, leaving behind the ideas of her past. I actually read this book twice - the first time focussing on the plot, the second on the pressure for Annie to become “Western.” I thought it was very interesting and well written, thoughtful and very eye-opening.
Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers
Review by Noah Pettinari, sophomore
Do you like plot twists to the Iraq War? Then this book is for you. Birdy is a soldier newly deployed into Iraq and Kuwait from Harlem, New York. As he learns the ropes of Civil Affairs operations in Iraq 2003, he encounters the true embodiment of war. This book is written in such a way as to personify the commonly dehumanized military, and lacks the catchy plots commonly found in YA novels. I would recommend it to any teen interested in the mental toll of war and how much war can change a person's life.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
Review by Elsa Hoover, sophomore
When I picked up this book I didn’t have any idea what it was about. Exit, Pursued by a Bear? A cheerleader? I wondered what this could possibly be about, but then I read the inside of the flap and found out it was about sexual assault and stopped short. Did I really want to read something so sad? But I went on and I am really glad I did. This is a book about a cheerleader raped at camp, and the next year of her life as she navigates this new world. My favorite thing about this book was its realism in the face of a hard subject. Not everything turned out great. It wasn’t cheery and that why it felt real. You could understand where all the characters were coming from. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a short, emotionally charged book.
Here is a list of more books that helped expand our worldview: