Book Review: The Radical Element

Still on the hunt for short stories for my creative writing kids, I have breezed through a lot of anthologies lately. The Radical Element, edited by Jessica Spotswood is the only one in the first batch of 8, I actually finished.

Basic Summary (courtesy of Amazon):

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 decision that must be faced when you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs — whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they’re asking you to join them.

My thoughts:

I liked this anthology tremendously.  From the very first story I knew I would be reading it from cover to cover rather than scanning for something that didn’t make me want to poke my eye out.

Again I don’t want to give away too much. But who hasn’t thought about running away with the circus?

I did use one of the shorts for my class, in our segment on comedy. I wanted to show them that comedic writing didn’t have to be just fart jokes. That you could wrap something ugly and complicated like racism in comedy and make your point.  Stacey Lee did so quite well in the Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave.