Hello everyone! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Hope Nation. Read on to hear my full thoughts on this essay collection!
Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration by Rose Brock, Atia Abawi, Romina Garber, Kate Hart, Brendan Kiely, Alex London, Marie Lu, Julie Murphy, Jason Reynolds, Aisha Saeed, Renee Ahdieh, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Nicola Yoon, Jeff Zentner, Libba Bray, Howard Bryant, Ally Carter, Ally Condie, James Dashner, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Gayle Forman
Published by Philomel Books on February 27th 2018
Genres: Non-Fiction, Young Adult
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Hope is a decision, but it is a hard one to recognize in the face of oppression, belittlement, alienation, and defeat. To help embolden hope, here is a powerhouse collection of essays and personal stories that speak directly to teens and all YA readers. Featuring Angie Thomas, Marie Lu, James Dashner, Nicola Yoon, David Levithan, Libba Bray, Jason Reynolds, Renée Ahdieh, and many more!
"The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood."--Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
We all experience moments when we struggle to understand the state of the world, when we feel powerless and--in some cases--even hopeless. The teens of today are the caretakers of tomorrow, and yet it's difficult for many to find joy or comfort in such a turbulent society. But in trying times, words are power.
Some of today's most influential young adult authors come together in this highly personal nonfiction collection of original essays, poems, and letters, each a first-hand account that ultimately strives to inspire hope.
Like a modern day Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul or Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Teens, Hope Nation acknowledges the pain and shines a light on what comes after.
Authors include: Atia Abawi, Renee Ahdieh, Libba Bray, Howard Bryant, Ally Carter, Ally Condie, James Dashner, Christina Diaz Gonzales, Gayle Forman, Romina Garber, I. W. Gregario, Kate Hart, Bendan Kiely, David Levithan, Alex London, Marie Lu, Julie Murphy, Jason Reynolds, Aisha Saeed, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Jeff Zentner, and Nicola Yoon.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
2018 seems to be the year of YA anthologies, and I’ve been particularly looking forward to Hope Nation. This collection is comprised of essays by some of the most well-known voices in YA lit about moments that gave them hope, what hope means to them, and how to pass hope on to the next generation of readers and humans. It’s a varied mix of essays: some are five pages; some are twenty-five. Some are about specific moments; some are about abstract ideas. Many of them address identity and life as a marginalized person in some way. Almost all of them reference the 2016 election and the warring feelings of despair and hope that were born out of that event. I definitely think Hope Nation contains an essay for everyone.
Just like the content of the essays themselves, my reactions to them were quite varied. Some of them truly inspired hope in me, while others made me want to throw the book across the room. As with any anthology, one reader is unlikely to love all the separate essays in the book. However, I do think there is no shortage of inspiration for teen readers to discover within these pages. I LOVED the amount of intersectionality and the diverse group of contributors in this collection. Hope Nation releases at an excellent moment where the content contained within is still extremely relevant, but I do wonder if the book dates itself by forging such strong ties between its contents and the 2016 election (this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; just an observation and a genuine question). Anyway, I did collect brief thoughts on all of the essays as I read, so let’s get into those!
We by David Levithan: 3 stars // I enjoyed Levithan’s piece (which is actually a fictional short story as opposed to an essay) because it addressed a moment of history I was also part of– the 2017 Women’s March, specifically in my city of Atlanta. I think Levithan perfectly captured the hopeful, resilient feelings of that day, but it made me a little uncomfortable that he didn’t address the lack of intersectionality at that march.
Before and After by Libba Bray: 4.5 stars // CW for car accident, hospitals, depression, substance use. This essay was so, so wonderful and hopeful. It’s no secret that Libba Bray is my favorite author, but I had no idea about this part of her life. Knowing her background and how she began writing in the first place makes me appreciate her gorgeous books all the more. Plus, like every word she writes, this essay was excellently written. This was definitely one of the most personal essays in the anthology.
Now More Than Ever by Angie Thomas: 4 stars // I didn’t learn anything new-to-me from this essay, but it’s always wonderful to hear from Angie about her experiences publishing THUG in the current political climate.
Rundown by Ally Condie: 3 stars // I liked the message of Condie’s essay, but not the overall form of the storytelling.
Surviving by Marie Lu: 5 stars // Loved this story of immigration, assimilation, adaptation, and survival. So good.
Nobody Remembers the Names of People Who Build Walls by Jeff Zentner: 2 stars // Cliche and told in such a repetitive manner that my eyes kept skipping on the page. I get repetition for emphasis, but this was too much to be effective.
Love by Nicola Yoon: 3.5 stars // This story is perfect for all the romantics out there. It’s about love overcoming prejudice.
Wings and Teeth by Kate Hart: 4 stars // I liked this because it really detailed Hart’s thought process while writing this essay. I think all of us could stand to think about abstract concepts like hope with the level of nuance with which Hart approached it.
Shot of Hope by Gayle Forman: 5 stars // Forman’s essay is all about travel and the hope it provides. I related so intensely to her experiences. I also appreciated that she acknowledged her privilege as a relatively-well-off white woman.
Baseball Pasta by Christina Diaz: 4 stars // Another story about finding hope in the immigrant experience. Loved.
Different Dances by Alex London: 4.5 stars // A delightful essay about friends and support and queerness and drag. Obvs, I loved it.
The Dreadful Summer of 1991 by Howard Bryant: 4 stars // Another essay I appreciated and could relate to. Sometimes, all it takes is asking one person for help (and them being willing to give it to you) to change your mindset.
The Two Types of Secrets by Ally Carter: 5 stars // Loved the ideas in this one. This is the essay from Hope Nation that gave me, personally, the most hope to take away.
Born in Argentina, Made in America: The Immigrant Identity by Romina Garber: 4 stars// Awesome discussion on the American immigrant experience, expectations, and labels.
Chah-muh by Renee Ahdieh: 3 stars // Again, a good essay, but I didn’t take away anything particularly new or exciting.
The Only One I Can Apologize For by Aisha Saeed: 4 stars // Much-needed words and sentiment.
In the Past by Jenny Torres Sanchez: 3 stars // A personal anecdote about believing in hope through seeing changes in the people you love.
Always by Nic Stone: 5 stars // SUCH an excellent essay about being black in America, the fear that marginalized people hold right now, and how the things we love connect us to other (seemingly different) people even now.
Heading for Home by Julie Murphy: 5 stars // A story about collecting hope and building a life out of the little victories. Short by powerful.
Caution: This Hope is NSFW (But It Shouldn’t Be) by IW Gregorio: 2 stars // I didn’t really get what this one had to do with hope? Plus, the author claims that “there is no normal when it comes to being human” (the whole essay is about the aesthetics of bodies, based off Gregorio’s years of practicing medicine) yet also attempts to acknowledge her privilege by saying “there is very little about [her] body that is out of the ordinary.” These two statements feel so at odds and contradictory, and pretty much invalidated her essay in my mind.
Four-Letter Words by James Dashner: DNF // As usual, I just cannot do James Dashner’s writing. Even in nonfiction, apparently. EDITED TO ADD: it’s recently come to light that James Dashner is a piece of trash who has sexually harassed women for years. Bye.
The Kids Who Stick by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely: 4.5 stars // Loved these two’s brief conversation about the kids they’ve met over the years while promoting All American Boys who have stuck with them and given them hope for the future. I only wish it had been longer!
Have you read Hope Nation? If so, which essay was your favorite? If not, do you plan to read it?