Being Jazz

28698224 Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

**This review is based on an ARC received at BEA/BookCon 2016, release date 6/7/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

Teen activist and trailblazer Jazz Jennings named one of The 25 Most Influential Teens of the year by “Time” shares her very public transgender journey, as she inspires people to accept the differences in others while they embrace their own truths.
Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents. A year later, her parents allowed her to share her incredible journey in her first Barbara Walters interview, aired at a time when the public was much less knowledgeable or accepting of the transgender community. This groundbreaking interview was followed over the years by other high-profile interviews, a documentary, the launch of her YouTube channel, a picture book, and her own reality TV series “I Am Jazz” making her one of the most recognizable activists for transgender teens, children, and adults.
In her remarkable memoir, Jazz reflects on these very public experiences and how they have helped shape the mainstream attitude toward the transgender community. But it hasn’t all been easy. Jazz has faced many challenges, bullying, discrimination, and rejection, yet she perseveres as she educates others about her life as a transgender teen. Through it all, her family has been beside her on this journey, standing together against those who don’t understand the true meaning of tolerance and unconditional love. Now Jazz must learn to navigate the physical, social, and emotional upheavals of adolescence particularly high school complicated by the unique challenges of being a transgender teen. Making the journey from girl to woman is never easy especially when you began your life in a boy s body.

My thoughts:

I didn’t meet Jazz at BookCon, but I was glad to pick this ARC up because I am always looking for good memoirs/biographies to add to my high school’s library collection. Our curriculum requires students to read a memoir for English class and some other teachers require a nonfiction title for a book report during the year as well. I love finding titles with familiar faces and topics that are interesting to my students. I am not a nonfiction reader myself in most cases, but I do enjoy a lot of memoirs, so I happily read this one. I was able to read it all in almost one sitting and found the writing to be wonderful and very readable for teens. I could easily recommend this to any of my students, even those with a lower reading level.

A lot of teens already know who Jazz is from social media and/or TV, so this is a chance to learn more about her. However, I think that even those who don’t know her would still gladly pick this one up and read about an interesting topic. I thought it was great learning about what Jazz felt like growing up and how others treated her. She has overcome so many challenges and loves who she is as a person, which is a great message to send to teens no matter what! I also like that this book has great interactive qualities…I found myself going to watch YouTube videos of the interviews she had done and more while reading and after I was done. There are also great resources for those wanting to learn more included. Jazz’s story flowed well and moved quickly, it did not feel like “factual” reading at all.

Overall, this book sends a great message about loving yourself and knowing who you are, and I will be ordering multiple copies for my library, as well as sharing this ARC with others!

My rating: 5/5


In Defense of the Princess

In Defense of the Princess: How Plastic Tiaras and Fairytale Dreams Can Inspire Smart, Strong Women In Defense of the Princess by Jerramy Fine

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 3/22/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

It’s no secret that most girls, at some point, love all things princess: the poofy dresses, the plastic tiaras, the color pink. Even grown-up women can’t get enough of royal weddings and royal gossip. Yet critics claim the princess dream sets little girls up to be weak and submissive, and allows grown women to indulge in fantasies of rescue rather than hard work and self-reliance.
Enter Jerramy Fine – an unabashed feminist who is proud of her life-long princess obsession and more than happy to defend it. Through her amusing life story and in-depth research, Fine makes it clear that feminine doesn’t mean weak, pink doesn’t mean inferior, and girliness is not incompatible with ambition. From 9th century Cinderella to modern-day Frozen, from Princess Diana to Kate Middleton, from Wonder Woman to Princess Leia, Fine valiantly assures us that princesses have always been about power, not passivity. And those who love them can still be confident, intelligent women.
Provocative, insightful, but also witty and personal, In Defense of the Princess empowers girls, women, and parents to dream of happily ever after without any guilt or shame.

My thoughts:

Well, let me start by saying there could not be a more perfect book for me to have come across. Obviously (hence the title Library Princess), I have always thought that I am a princess. It doesn’t hurt that my mom named me Sara, which means princess. I love all things princess, sparkly, and pink and am about the most girly person you will ever meet. I enjoyed the first part of this book and found I really related to the things that were being said. However, as the book went on, I did feel like it was a bit repetitive…keep in mind that I am NOT a nonfiction reader, so this was a stretch for me. I really did like reading about all the actual royal princesses as well and seeing the things they were all involved in. Overall, the writing style was good and the author was humorous, but this is definitely targeted to a specific audience. I do think I should recommend it to my some of my princess “critics” though…ahem, MOM. 🙂 The overall theme is a good one, that princess are powerful, not weak and sensitive.

My favorite line (remember this is an ARC so it could change):

“Maybe instead of telling our girls that their brains are filled with too much princess, we should focus on telling our boys that their brains don’t contain nearly enough prince.”

Preach, sister! 🙂

My rating: 4/5

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

81WQcVD8k9L The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, it releases on 2/10/15.

I originally requested this title because a)it has a really fun cover, and b)the synopsis on Netgalley drew me in because it sounded very entertaining.  After I was approved and when I knew it was coming close to time to actually read the title, I watched a few videos from Issa Rae’s YouTube channel and knew I had to make sure to get to this one in my To-Be-Read pile.  I was not disappointed.  If you have followed me to this point, it is pretty obvious that I am not a huge fan of nonfiction titles, but I can handle memoirs most of the time.  This was written as somewhat of a guide, mixed with Issa’s own experiences and life stories.  The sections that were considered an Awkward Black Girl guide had me cracking up, as they described different kinds of black people, different kinds of coworkers, and so on; all were pretty spot-on.  The sections that were written about Issa’s life were also rather entertaining.  Issa moved around a lot as a child and has many hilarious stories to tell from her experiences with friendship and family….though, I have to admit, it was a bit confusing at times because the stories did jump back and forth over time quite a bit, so I was a little lost. There were several times during the reading of this title that I caught myself laughing out loud, and that is always an indication of a good book to me! If you have not heard of Issa Rae, look her up on YouTube and then grab this book for some laughs.  I will be purchasing for my library and recommending to students, especially for their required nonfiction book reports.  Might as well make it fun!

My rating: 4/5

We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

9780316251020_p0_v2_s260x420 We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, it releases on 12/23.

Okay, I’ll admit I am not much of a nonfiction reader.  I usually find them tedious and repetitive to make my way through. However, I did not feel that was the case with this book.  It reads very much like a fiction book, which was the first benefit to me; but, it is also funny so that is another plus.  Josh is trying to figure out why he has never had a “real” girlfriend so he goes back and examines each pseudo-relationship he has had from Junior High and up.  For each girl he talks about, he gives an in-depth background of how he met her, what their “relationship” was like, and where it went wrong.  He then gives a short hypothesis and what he thinks happened and does an investigation by meeting with them in present-day and talking about their past.  With some of them, he can easily find out what happened and with others he is still baffled as to what happened between them.  Josh is eventually able to discover what it is that is keeping him from finding the right girl and having an actual relationship with her and the book ends with his present situation (not saying anything else!).  Again, I am admittedly not a nonfiction reader, but I can see myself recommending this title to my high school students, boys and girls, easily and being able to talk about it in a way that will interest them.  It is also a quick read, which is always a benefit for many of my students.

My rating: 4/5