Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan
Published by Bloomsbury YA on February 12th, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
“Watch us shut it down. Watch us break it loose. Watch us rise.”
To say that I had high expectations for this book would be an understatement. I was expecting to read a book that would inspire young women to proudly declare themselves as “feminists.” I was hoping to read about young women coming into their own as they learn how to use their voice to stand up for equality.
If you’re looking for a feminist book that inspires young women, read Moxie instead. If you’re looking for poetry that weaves a beautiful story about growing up and finding your voice as a woman, read The Poet X instead.
Unfortunately, this book fell short of all my expectations. I can see that this was written with nothing but good intentions. It clearly wanted to teach young women about intersectional feminism (keyword: intersectional), but it just missed the mark.
This book is clunky and nothing is written with nuance. Everything feels forced and the deeper issues of feminism aren’t addressed at all. I will give it credit for being more inclusionary compared to Moxie. There is race and ethnicity diversity, and the book does address sizeism. But then it never addresses sexuality and diversity is undercut with Chelsea (a white, straight, cisgender woman) being the other main POV of the book.
The characters are told to stop thinking about themselves and start thinking of other women, but the book ends with their perspectives never changing. Their feminist narrative still isn’t inclusive of all women.