Diverse Books, Muslim Shelf Space, Non Fiction Books

I Will Not Be Erased: Our Stories About Growing Up As People Of Colour By Gal-dem – Book Review

Thank you to Walker Books YA for this book in exchange for an honest review.

I had heard about this book a while ago and then it was announced that two of the authors will be at YALC this year so I was already really interested in reading this book so when I was able to request it I couldn’t pass up the chance! And wow how much did I absolutely love this book!

E47FE4C7-8B9E-4CE7-8A83-2EEE6157AEB9

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Fourteen joyous, funny and life-affirming essays from gal-dem, the award-winning magazine created by young women and non-binary people of colour.
gal-dem, the award-winning online and print magazine, is created by women and non-binary people of colour. In this thought-provoking and moving collection of fourteen essays, gal-dem’s writers use raw material from their teenage years – diaries, poems and chat histories – to explore growing up. gal-dem have been described by the Guardian as “the agents of change we need”, and these essays tackle important subjects including race, gender, mental health and activism, making this essential reading for any young person.

This book is something I wish I had been able to read when I was a teenager. And I hope that lots of young people benefit from this book. This book showed me that how I felt was felt by others and that made me feel not so alone. It’s hard when you don’t quite fit in especially as a teen and I didn’t know how to express it but this book so wonderfully talks about so many things that I feel now and when I was younger. I know that others reading this will feel the same way.

It is full of experiences of people who we don’t normally get to see in public. I always see white women in books and media but their experiences are going to be very different from me, a Pakistani Muslim woman, so to be able to read stories written by Muslims and people of colour is important for so many of us. Everyone’s experience differs but coming from a similar culture means that even if it isn’t quite the same experience it is still very much relatable.

I felt like this book expressed parts of me and my life that not everyone will understand. From facing racism and discrimination because of the colour of my skin or the scarf on my head. To cultural and religious differences from what is considered “cultural norm”. One of the essays that really hit me hard was Sara Jafari’s essay, My Virginity and my Choice: Dating as a British Muslim. Although I hadn’t dated my now husband, a lot of what she said really resonated with me. I really loved how she spoke about a really sensitive topic, especially in the Muslim community and I wish this was discussed more so it wouldn’t be so taboo.

One of the things that she said had me laughing my head off:

“Edward Cullen is every Muslim girl’s fantasy: he’s hot, forbidden and wants to wait until marriage to have sex”

I really loved how they used diary entries, journals, messages and more from their teen years to write a letter to their younger selves. It made these essays honest, raw and heartfelt. And by speaking to their younger selves they also spoke directly to all the young people out there who feel like no one really understands what they are growing through. I also loved that they included artwork throughout the book with quotes, it was such a lovely touch.

Reading this book will help so many people see themselves but also those who have never had to experience these things can get a glimpse of what it is like to grow up and not have white skin or be straight. How having more than one culture can mean you do and see things differently and how that can make us seem like we don’t belong.

This book is empowering , inspiring and so relatable. I finally felt seen and heard by reading these essays. I highly recommend everyone to read this and I hope that others find it as beneficial as I did.

Diverse Books, YA Books

The Quiet At The End Of The World by Lauren James – Book Review

I received a copy of this book from Walker YA in exchange for an honest review.

I loved The Next Beginning and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe so I was super excited about reading Lauren’s new book and it did not disappoint!

IMG_1921

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

How far would you go to save those you love?
Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mudlarking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion.
Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice . . .

This book starts with Lowrie and Shen being normal teenagers, but we quickly learn that they are the youngest people alive and that they grew up in a time very different to the one we live in. There is no one else their age and the population is in the hundreds and they will have to watch the population go extinct.

The story is beautiful and heart breaking at times but still hopeful. It’s a dystopia set in the future, it is still feel good and leave you feeling warm inside, yet still deals with serious and heavy topics.

This book like Lauren’s other books deals with many important topics and the consequences of those if no one does anything about it. The environment is a topic that is discussed throughout the book and what can happen to the earth if we don’t look after it. Another thing that’s discussed is what does it mean to be human? Another thing that both characters thought about throughout the book was what will they leave behind, what will be their legacy. These are things we all think about and it was so interesting to see.

I also loved how inclusive and diverse Lauren’s books always are it doesn’t feel forced. It’s so nice to see and that the characters were so accepting of it, unlike a lot of what we see today.

Okay so like Lauren’s other books there was one hell of a plot twist halfway through the book that left my shouting, WHAT?! I did not see it coming and I actually had to stop reading to process everything that I read so far in light of this new information. Just wow! I love how she can bring in plot twists that you did not expect at all.

Lowrie and Shen are such great characters. I loved their friendship and how it developed into something more. Shen is Chinese and deaf in one ear, he is kind and considerate and loves learning new things, especially in technology and computers. Whereas Lowrie prefers more active hobbies such as scuba diving and building and fixing robots. It was nice to see how different they are yet how well they live and work together. They supported each other and understood each other so well.

I also loved Maya and Riz who we see through social media posts that Lowrie finds. Even though we only see them through their posts I felt like I got to know them so well. I also loved their messages to each other and especially how passionate Maya was about the issues they both faced when they were first faced with the infertility and the human race could become extinct.

So as you can tell I really loved this book and I cannot wait to read what Lauren writes next!