Review: The Radical Element


Title: The Radical Element
Author: Jessica Spotswood (editor)
Genre: Young Adult, Short Stories
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

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 whether 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 the 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.


This is a collection of stories that feature girls who live on the margins of society in some way, and rebel against the expectations of society.

I loved the tension and pacing in the stories. They often ended right as something was going to happen, which left me wanting more. I’m going to look up other works by these authors, because they were all great.

One thing that bothered me about these stories was the lack of geographical and racial diversity. The first half of the stories featured white main characters and were set in southern United States. The one main character who was Mexican used her magic to appear white to blend in with the other actresses in early twentieth century Hollywood. Each of the girls had some other way that they stood on the fringe of society, whether in ability, sexuality, or religion but I would have liked to see more races and settings in the stories. The latter half of the book featured more main characters who were women of colour, but I wish they appeared earlier in the book.

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