Flight from Syria: Refugee Stories, ed. Kem Knapp Sawyer


Flight from Syria: Refugee Stories is a collection of nonfiction articles by nine journalists about the Syrian refugee crisis. It is an ebook, and can be found for free on Amazon here. It addresses issues like foreign aid, refugee camps, assimilation into other countries, and the effect of the crisis on children, and because it is composed of articles, it includes many personal stories, interviews, and photographs. I especially liked the interviews and photos, which gave the information presented in the book a human, emotional connection, and prevented the more factual sections from becoming boring. I also appreciated the multiple perspectives on the crisis provided by the different writers. I would recommend this book to anyone as a useful resource for increasing awareness about critical current issues surrounding the refugee crisis — for instance, the measures taken by the US to bar refugees from entering the country, and the the plight of refugees living in overcrowded, under-funded camps and towns.

Even though this is a nonfiction book, it still explores many themes that might be found in novels, like the value of home, and the responsibility of people with privilege to help those who are less privileged. Because of this, aspects of the book that might seem intimidating (like the journalistic language and the frequent references to people, events, and places) are still manageable, since they are tied together by broad and timeless themes. Overall, then, I think Flight from Syria is a worthwhile read that is very relevant today, and can still be enjoyable for people who are usually less interested in nonfiction.

By: Anja Hendrikse Liu

Sawyer, Kem Knapp, ed. Flight from Syria: Refugee Stories. Washington, DC: Pulitzer Center, 2015. Web.


X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

Before he was a leading human rights activist, who was Malcolm X?

X: A Novel tells the story of young Malcolm X—born Malcolm Little and later also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz—as he copes with his father’s death, his mother’s being taken away, and the inevitable separation from his siblings. The story opens with sixteen-year-old Malcolm boarding a bus from his home in Lansing, Michigan to Boston, where he plans to live with his half-sister Ella. The novel follows Malcolm through his adventures in Boston and Harlem while incorporating flashbacks to his younger years.

Though the novel is a fictionalized account of Malcolm X’s younger years, the tales of the world of jazz, zoot suits, conked hair, girls, and drugs runs very close to the narrative of the activist’s early life as described in The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

At its core, X: A Novel is a story about a young black man trying to make sense of a deeply racialized 1940s America. It is co-written by Kekla Magoon, author of How It Went Down, and Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X. This novel is a must-read for anyone who wishes to learn more about the man who has inspired generations of people in the U.S. and abroad.

By Bruna

MLA Citation: Shabazz, Ilyasah, and Kekla Magoon. X: A Novel. Candlewick Press, 2015.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

8306857Have you ever been described as awkward? Or maybe you have that one (maybe 17) incredibly awkward moments that you’d much rather forget? Well believe me when I say that author Issa Rae knows exactly how you feel and basically just wrote a book about it.

Whether you know who Issa Rae is or not, this memoir will have you chuckling with each page. Most known for her web series Awkward Black Girl and new HBO series Insecure, Issa Rae explains her path to adulthood in a witty and captivating manner. Coming from a Senegalese immigrant family, Rae describes what it was like growing up in a Maryland/Senegal/Los Angeles. Narrating her life through various entertaining chapters, Rae explores her love life, her inability to dance and what it was like growing up as an awkward black girl. From discussing her obsession with online chat rooms in middle school to her useful guides in how to interact with the ever-fascinating awkward black person, Rae pulls readers into a her life and provides a valued lesson with the end of each chapter.

This book speaks to people of all ages. While there are some times where the references she makes in the book go over the heads of younger audiences, Rae makes up for it in the relevance of her hilarious teenage mishaps. You walk away from this book feeling as though you are understood, feeling as though Rae spent the past 250 pages essentially telling you that she’s been there. In a smart way, Issa Rae makes space for people who feel as though they don’t belong anywhere else. Whether you’re black, white, awkward, introvert, extrovert, this book provides a place for you to enjoy a little humor.

By: Carina Cruz

Rae, Issa. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. New York: 37 Ink/Atria Books. 2015. Ebook.