The Radical Element

The Radical Element

In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.To respect yourself, to love yourself—should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It's a de...

DownloadRead Online
Title:The Radical Element
Author:Jessica Spotswood
Rating:

The Radical Element Reviews

  • Stacey Lee

    I'm excited for this collection of important stories from little-heard voices, and hope you are, too! I just finished this book, and here are my thoughts on each story, for those wondering what's inside.

    Daughter of the Book, by Dahlia Adler. Rebekah wants to learn the Torah, Hebrew, and about the prophets, subjects off limits to girls in Savannah 1838. Dahlia writes with such command and understanding that suddenly Rebekah's struggles become the reader's.

    You're a Stranger Here, Mackenzi Lee pro

    I'm excited for this collection of important stories from little-heard voices, and hope you are, too! I just finished this book, and here are my thoughts on each story, for those wondering what's inside.

    Daughter of the Book, by Dahlia Adler. Rebekah wants to learn the Torah, Hebrew, and about the prophets, subjects off limits to girls in Savannah 1838. Dahlia writes with such command and understanding that suddenly Rebekah's struggles become the reader's.

    You're a Stranger Here, Mackenzi Lee provides a glimpse through the eyes of a young woman Eliza into the lives of the early Mormons as they were violently driven west from Nauvoo, Illinois in 1844. MacKenzi slips so effortlessly into her character's voices; this was a fascinating look into a bit of history I'd not known much about.

    The Magician, by Erin Bowman. "Ray," a girl masquerading as a boy in 1858 New Mexico Territory, gets by as a stevedore on the Colorado River, making extra change through her uncanny ability to remember cards, but faces an uncertain future when a fellow worker discovers her secrets. I am such a sucker for the western, and I love that Erin is, too. It shows in her stories and the grittiness of her heroines.

    Lady Firebrand, by Megan Shepherd. "Lord Firebrand" is a northern vigilante, blowing up cotton shipments intended to pay for supplies to the South. Only Lord Firebrand is actually a 'Lady' —actually two ladies, a Southerner and her black 'maid.' I love that Megan takes on this little known bit of history—the contributions women made in the Civil War with an eye to a better future.

    Step Right Up, by Jessica Spotswood. Plucky Ruby, abused by her stepfather and a compliant mother, longs to join the circus. Jessica is so good at transporting her readers to wherever her time machine points —this time, turn of the 20th century Tulsa, Oklahoma. You might even lulled to join the circus, too, a place which "welcomes all kinds."

    Glamour, by Anna-Marie McLemore. The cost of maintaining her illusion of 'whiteness' in order to pursue her Hollywood dream may be too high for Mexican American Graciela, living in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Anna-Marie's writing is exquisite and so dense with meaning and here is another example.

    Better for All the World, by Marieke Nijkamp takes on the issue of forced sterilization in the name of eugenics, which disproportionately affected women of color. It's heartbreaking and empowering at the same time. If you want to understand the historical treatment of the disabled, start here.

    When the Moonlight Isn't Enough by Dhonielle Clayton. An immortal African American girl in 1943 Massachusetts wants to help out in the war effort, even if it means going against her family. I loved this unique premise and Dhonielle has such a command of her craft.

    The Belle of the Ball, by Sarvenaz Tash. A girl in 1950's Brooklyn wishes to write comedy at a time when the idea of a female comedy writer was itself laughable. This one delighted me; I hadn't read Sarvenaz's work yet but now she is on my list. Also, I loved the I Love Lucy references.

    Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave, by yours truly! A biracial Japanese girl competes to be the face of Sugar Maiden sugar in post-World War II Oakland, CA. This is where I get awkward, uh, I hope you like it.

    The Birth of Susi Go-Go, by Meg Medina. A young Cuban American girl balances life in America with the arrival of her grandparents from Cuba. I love how Meg finds unexplored places of American history and shows us all the gray areas.

    Take Me With U by Sara Farizan. An Iranian girl in the eighties, my favorite decade, dreams of being a rock star. I loved how this story explored not just the complicated feelings of being an Iranian immigrant in the eighties, but also the power of music to shape our identities.

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    After a fairly shaky first half, I

    the second half of this. All the characters are the best, basically.

    My average rating for this anthology was a surprisingly high... 4.0. Did you expect that? Because I totally did not. Halfway through this anthology, I was prepared to give it a big old three, and then I hit three five stars in a row and this happens.

    Okay, so here’s my really big gripe with this anthology. It is marketed as being about radical gir

    After a fairly shaky first half, I

    the second half of this. All the characters are the best, basically.

    My average rating for this anthology was a surprisingly high... 4.0. Did you expect that? Because I totally did not. Halfway through this anthology, I was prepared to give it a big old three, and then I hit three five stars in a row and this happens.

    Okay, so here’s my really big gripe with this anthology. It is marketed as being about radical girls, which at least some of the anthology editors have implied means more marginalized girls, and that is really untrue. There has still been no Native American MC in twenty-five stories that are

    , which is honestly pretty disappointing. It also feels at times a little lacking in intersectionality—a bunch of the stories have MCs of Exactly One Marginalization and it feels vaguely weird. And in this whole book, none of the stories are sapphic; only four even have queer characters, two of whom are side characters and two of whom have it mentioned

    . Not to be this person, but I’m gonna say it:

    I also love the focus on girl power, the diverse characters [there’s a lot of diversity in representation for girls of color], and

    . Let’s get started!

    ★★★☆☆

    ✔ 1838 Savannah, GA | Jewish MC

    Can’t decide on a three or a four, but I think this one was overall quite solid. It’s a story of being a Jewish woman in an era where society rejects both, and wanting to fit into your strongest faith. I guess I just felt it was a bit tell-not-show and didn’t do much until the ending?

    ★★★★☆

    ✔ 1844 Nouvoo, Illinois | Mormon MC

    Taking place just after Mormon prophet Joseph Smith is killed, this one focuses on the idea of persecution of faith and the different outlets we find, be they positive or negative. I just really liked how faith was talked about in this story. A very strong four.

    ★★★★☆

    ✔ 1858 Colorado River, NM | nonbinary MC

    A story of a trip up the river into Utah and Mormon territory [the placement directly after Mackenzi’s story fits perfectly.] Dressed as a boy, Ray is on a mission. I thought the ending of this one was lovely, going in a direction I did not expect and also making it pretty clear that Ray actually would ID as nonbinary today.

    ★★★★☆

    ✔ 1863 Charleston, SC | disabled MC and black girl side

    A solid story about a pro-union spy team of girls, one in a wheelchair and one her black maid. I support them and would die for them.

    ★★★☆☆

    ✔ 1905 Tulsa, Indian Territory | sapphic abuse survivor MC

    This one was a lot of fun, but again, not amazing. It’s a very self-contained character piece without really having anything special, and I admit I didn’t really love the main character? I don’t tend to be attracted to wild child leads, I guess. But certainly not bad.

    ★★★★★

    ✔ 1923 Central Valley, CA | brown Mexican MC, disabled trans boy LI

    I think McLemore just has very consistent quality writing and characters and very consistently plays with themes I LOVE. Here, it’s about the masks we put on to hide things we may not be ashamed of, but others will be, and how that affects us. The best one in the first half of the collection, honestly.

    ★★★★★

    ✔ 1927 Washington, DC | autistic MC

    THERE WAS A STORY THAT WAS EXPLICITLY ANTI EUGENICS. Okay, so I got really passionate about this historical era this year because I did a paper on post-World-War-II eugenics. So this story and its discussion of the way society treated “different” people was so amazing. The main character, Carrie, is very clearly autistic and written so well and I basically adore her [an icon!!!!!] I hope she gets the lawyer job she deserves. Spoilery note: I kind of wished in the first half that the love interest had figured out that he was wrong, if only so the lead could get a happy relationship? But the way the story actually went was better on another level by validating the lead’s need for someone who actually treated her well, so I guess that wish was pretty irrational.

    ★★★★★

    ✔ 1943 Oak Bluffs, MA | black MC

    Uh, wow, three fives in a row just as I was readying to write this collection off as good-but-not-standout? Lead character Emma has been alive for 200 years and is just now deciding whether to break free. This story is primarily focused on the continuity between earlier black history and later black history. The other main concept explored here is the question of how black people can be patriotic in a culture that has offered them so little, and how they can find their own communities. It’s just an excellent story with very sound writing.

    ★★★★☆

    ✔ 1952 Brooklyn, NY | Latino LI

    Rosemary wants to write comedy, her friend Sandra wants to be the next Lucille Ball, and there’s a cute boy, Tomás, on her street. This was really sweet and felt very ‘50s — love the side friendship and the ending is perfect.

    ★★★★★

    ✔ 1955 Oakland, CA | multiracial Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian MC

    A story about Lana Lau dragging everyone to hell and back. Every line of this was the most savage thing I’d ever read and I love it. Also love the mentions of American imperialism in Hawaii and the taking-back of that narrative. And I know I've said it, but I truly

    the lead.

    ★★☆☆☆

    ✔ 1972 Queens, NY | Cuban MC

    This was… really disappointing? I don’t know. It’s really long and doesn’t really have an ending. I liked the bits about being an immigrant from Cuba, but they felt crammed into something quite long and rambly for a short story. And the lead had a very lacking voice.

    ★★★★☆

    ✔ 1984 Boston, MA | Iranian MC, sapphic Japanese side char

    Ooooh, this was amazing. A story of an Iranian immigrant in a girl band, and a story deeply entrenched in ‘80s vibes. As Sara Farizan says in her final note, the ‘80s was the decade that began to give us today — the cell phone, the computer, many of today’s global conflicts, the end of the Cold War, and above all, a feeling of change. The perfect ending for this collection and very very close to a five.

    despite an underwhelming first half, this got really excellent and was a worthwhile read. I would definitely recommend

    by Stacey Lee,

    by Dhonielle Clayton,

    by Anna-Marie McLemore, and my absolute favorite,

    by Marieke Nijkamp. This was a great anthology and I’m happy to have read it!

    |

    |

    |

  • Clara

    A friend of mine recommended me the first anthology, so when this one has been added to Netgalley I knew I had to ask for it. If you don't know what it's about,

    is basically an anthology about all those women who didn't fit in the society they were born in and who had to fight to get a chance to be heard.

    It's always so hard to review anthologies, and it's still the case here, but the subject is so importa

    A friend of mine recommended me the first anthology, so when this one has been added to Netgalley I knew I had to ask for it. If you don't know what it's about,

    is basically an anthology about all those women who didn't fit in the society they were born in and who had to fight to get a chance to be heard.

    It's always so hard to review anthologies, and it's still the case here, but the subject is so important that I can't think of another rating than 4 stars. This book is beautiful and delivers such a strong message: everyone should read it. It really empowered me and made me believe that you should be proud of who you are and fight for your right to be free to be whoever you want to be and already are.

    I believe that the representation was good, but you should all look to #ownvoices reviews to be sure of it. It felt so good to read something so diverse because the world is and everyone should be represented in literature.

    In the end, I really enjoyed the whole book: I loved some short stories more than others but overall the whole anthology was really good and well edited. I'm really glad that I read it!

  • Acqua

    is a historical fiction anthology about radical and dauntless young women throughout American history. It follows girls ahead of their times, marginalized girls, girls who were in some way unconventional.

    It’s the second book in a series. The first,

    , followed brave and “badass” girls; I read it more than a year ago, and I remember having mixed feelings on it. I liked this one a bit more, though it had its low points too.

    Overall, this didn't disappoint.

    is a historical fiction anthology about radical and dauntless young women throughout American history. It follows girls ahead of their times, marginalized girls, girls who were in some way unconventional.

    It’s the second book in a series. The first,

    , followed brave and “badass” girls; I read it more than a year ago, and I remember having mixed feelings on it. I liked this one a bit more, though it had its low points too.

    Overall, this didn't disappoint.

    shines a spotlight on people who are often forgotten, erased in historical records, and who were considered outcasts because they didn't fit the norms.

    One thing didn’t convince me: these two anthologies about the history of the USA didn’t include, as far as I know, any Native American authors. There were barely any native characters (Yakone in the first book, and one of the characters from this one vaguely mentions she has “indian blood” and lives in a “half-Creek and half-Cherokee” territory); since this is a otherwise fairly diverse anthology, this absence stood out to me.

    Also: unlike

    , this didn’t have any f/f stories.

    : 3.5 stars.

    I had already read a book by this author – it was

    , a f/f contemporary novel I recommend – so I knew I really liked her writing style.

    This is the story of a Jewish girl who wants to receive a full education and maybe become a teacher, which was something radical for her time period. I loved the many (not only historical) details.

    I knew nothing about Mormon history, so this was interesting. I loved the setting and what the Eliza says to Vilatte about faith near the end of the story. I like Mackenzi Lee’s writing style; this story didn’t have the humor or tone of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, but it worked just as well.

    This was really interesting for a crossdressing story; at the end of it it’s hinted that Ray may be a person who would today identify as genderfluid/non-binary. That’s uncommon in historical books, but people like Ray have always existed, so I liked this. However, the actual plot was kind of boring at times.

    This was more interesting than I expected. A free black girl and a disabled white girl are union spies. Chemistry! Explosions! Of course, TW: racism.

    This was fun! A girl wants to run away from her abusive uncle with the circus. I really liked the main characters and the writing. The first scene drew me in immediately, and the descriptions of the circus were my favorite part.

    I will read everything Anna-Marie McLemore writes. This was just… so much better than all the other stories in the book. It’s a magical realism story about the racism, queerphobia and ableism in Hollywood, and it follows a Mexican girl who is able to whitewash herself to fit in and a disabled trans boy. Both of them live afraid of being found out, but find each other instead. I loved how this story approached a scene which could have been harmful (Graciela sees Sawyer half naked) in a really sensitive way. Graciela never questions Sawyer’s identity.

    reminded me of

    because of its symbolism, and in a good way – now I have a lot of feelings.

    TW: eugenics

    I had never read an ownvoices story about an autistic girl before; it’s difficult to find them, especially in historical fiction or SFF.

    Better for all the World follows an autistic girl who wants to become a lawyer. She is following the Carrie Buck case – who was sterilized because she was “feeble-minded” (that’s how they called people who had mental illnesses/developmental disabilities). The worst part is that some people argue that this should happen today too. It was infuriating to read, painful, but great. At the end of the story, the main character finds out that some friendships just aren’t worth it, especially when the other person doesn’t value you as you really are, or claims to like you while advocating for the oppression of other people like you.

    A magical black family drinks moonlight to be immortal, but their daughter wants to grow up and help her country win the war – a country that doesn’t value her at all. A really interesting concept, and the writing was lovely, but overall the story felt disjointed.

    I had never read anything by this author before. While the writing didn’t impress me, I can say I loved the main character’s voice. Rosemary is a girl who is struggling because her mother’s expectations do not include becoming a comedy writer.

    An Asian-American girl (Chinese father, biracial Japanese mother who was born in Hawaii) decides to participate in a contest to be the new “Sugar Maiden” – the girl whose face will be on the sugar boxes. I have loved everything I’ve read by Stacey Lee, and this was no exception.

    Lanakila Lau was one of my favorite main characters, and reading about the aftermath of Japanese internment and the history of Asian-Americans in Hawaii was really interesting.

    A Cuban-American girl is coming to terms with her past (her and her parents were exiled from Cuba), family expectations and who she wants to be in the future. The grandparents she hasn’t seen in 12 years are coming to visit her, and she isn’t sure how she feels about that. I didn’t love this one; it meandered and it was far too long.

    I had never read anything by Sara Farizan before. Take Me With U is about an Iranian girl, her immigrant family in the 80s, and her love for music. It was short and I don’t have any thoughts about it – it was just ok.

  • April (Aprilius Maximus)

    Definitely the weakest of the two anthologies in this series. My favourite was definitely Sara Farizan's 'Take Me With U'!

    Daughter of the Book by Dahlier Adler - 3.5/5 stars

    You're A Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee - 2.5/5 stars

    The Magician by Erin Bowman - 3/5 stars

    Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd – 4/5 stars

    Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood - 2.5/5 stars

    Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore - 4/5 stars

    Better For All the World by Marieke Nijkamp - 3/5 stars

    When The Moon Isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton

    Definitely the weakest of the two anthologies in this series. My favourite was definitely Sara Farizan's 'Take Me With U'!

    Daughter of the Book by Dahlier Adler - 3.5/5 stars

    You're A Stranger Here by Mackenzi Lee - 2.5/5 stars

    The Magician by Erin Bowman - 3/5 stars

    Lady Firebrand by Megan Shepherd – 4/5 stars

    Step Right Up by Jessica Spotswood - 2.5/5 stars

    Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore - 4/5 stars

    Better For All the World by Marieke Nijkamp - 3/5 stars

    When The Moon Isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton – 3.5/5 stars

    The Belle of the Ball by Sarvenaz Tash – 3.5/5 stars

    Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee – 4/5 stars

    The Birth of Susi Go-Go by Meg Medina – 3.5/5 stars

    Take Me With U by Sara Farizan – 4.5/5 stars

    Average Rating - 3.46

  • alice (arctic books)

    You can find this review and others at

    2.5/5 stars

    I’m starting to think that anthologies are just Not For Me. The past few anthologies that I’ve read had good content, but I just haven’t been into them as much as I wish I had. That being said, THE RADICAL ELEMENT contains amazing short stories from stellar YA authors.

    These twelve short stories are diverse in so many ways – there’s queer people, people of color, people with disabilities – I found myself in a few characters, especially

    You can find this review and others at

    2.5/5 stars

    I’m starting to think that anthologies are just Not For Me. The past few anthologies that I’ve read had good content, but I just haven’t been into them as much as I wish I had. That being said, THE RADICAL ELEMENT contains amazing short stories from stellar YA authors.

    These twelve short stories are diverse in so many ways – there’s queer people, people of color, people with disabilities – I found myself in a few characters, especially in Stacey Lee’s short story. A lot of short stories in this are set in a historical time period, most of which are in the twentieth century, such as the Roaring 20s, World War II, and others. If you enjoy historical fiction, you are bound to love this collection of stories.

    Overall, I do think that I’m starting to lose interest in short stories in general and perhaps historical fiction isn’t for me. However, I’m an intersectional feminist, and I related with many of these stories. I appreciate the wonderful diversity by #ownvoices authors that were featured in this short story collection. If you want to read more diversely from some amazing authors in this historical fiction anthology, be sure to pick this one up!

    Thank you to Candlewick for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Dahlia

    So,

    excited and honored to be contributing to this anthology, and cannot wait to read everyone else's stories!

  • Erin Bowman

    I'm so excited (and honored!) to be contributing to this anthology, and yes, you can expect me to write something set in the Wild West. Yeehaw! (

    )

    : Much like with

    , I loved this anthology and the wonderful mix of stories it provides. The girls featured in this book are radical, indeed, and I can't wait for you to read about them! :)

  • Nat

    I recently answered the

    book tag (and had THE MOST FUN doing so), wherein I featured this collection for Tom Haverford's

    Here is what I wrote taken directly from the tag:

    January was also the month where I received the opportunity to read an incredible short story written by Dahlia Adler in 

    anthology. 

    was the introducing story to the collection, and my immediate first thought upon completing it went, "I don

    I recently answered the

    book tag (and had THE MOST FUN doing so), wherein I featured this collection for Tom Haverford's

    Here is what I wrote taken directly from the tag:

    January was also the month where I received the opportunity to read an incredible short story written by Dahlia Adler in 

    anthology. 

    was the introducing story to the collection, and my immediate first thought upon completing it went, "I don’t know how any following tale will top that one." (And as you can tell, since I'm not writing a full review for the anthology, I had to put the book down because I couldn't continue reading without comparing each following tale to the phenomenal opening one.)

    Set in 1838, Savannah, Georgia,

    follows Rebekah's fight and journey to receive a more fulfilling Jewish education.

    Dahlia Adler created one of the most memorable protagonists I've encountered in my reading with Rebekah Wolf. And it is the first time that I’m actually aching for a short story to be expanded into a full novel.

    I’ve read a whole lot of short stories in anthologies these past few years, but I’ve truly never felt so seen before. There are talks of Hebrew, Torah, the Prophets, our history, language, and people. To paraphrase

    ,

    And as someone who does listen avidly to Torah lessons, I couldn’t have asked for a better story to capture the essence of my appreciation.

    Also, having watched the Israeli show

    , which is about four young Orthodox yeshiva students, made the characters in this short story stand out that more. Speaking of which, I would highly recommend giving the show a try if you enjoyed Dahlia Adler’s story because it showcases formidable female characters challenging the norm, as well as featuring situations with outstanding humor and precise commentary that makes everything shift in your point of view.

    If you're interested, the first episode is available to check out with English subtitles on the official Youtube page

    .

    ,

Best Free Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2018 Best Free Books - All rights reserved.