The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson

Posted March 11, 2011 by paperrdolls 0 Comments

Synopsis: Hoping to raise money for a post-graduation trip to London, Asha Jamison and her best friend Carey decide to sell T-shirts promoting the Latte Rebellion, a club that raises awareness of mixed-race students.

But seemingly overnight, their “cause” goes viral and the T-shirts become a nationwide social movement. As new chapters spring up from coast to coast, Asha realizes that her simple marketing plan has taken on a life of its own—and it’s starting to ruin hers. Asha’s once-stellar grades begin to slip, threatening her Ivy League dreams, while her friendship with Carey hangs by a thread. And when the peaceful underground movement spins out of control, Asha’s school launches a disciplinary hearing. Facing expulsion, Asha must decide how much she’s willing to risk for something she truly believes in.

Review: The Latte Rebellion’s greatest accomplishment is the novel’s ability to force the reader to question many of the issues surrounding race today, issues some people just won’t talk about in some futile attempt at remaining politically correct.  It’s a timely novel that would make a wonderful addition to the high school classroom.

While the novel isn’t an edge of your seat page turner, it’s still a great read. The characters are likable, and Stevenson really nails the teenage voice. While I was a little worried the novel was going to turn preachy, Stevenson artfully navigates the murky waters of raising political consciousness and writing  with a distinct agenda in mind. I never felt talked down to or forced into some ideology. As a teacher, I am constantly asked to label students’ race, and every time I am asked to check off black, white, Hispanic, or other. We aren’t where we need to be when it comes to discussions about race. I applaud this book for having the guts to tackle these issues.

Stevenson’s novel also includes a plethora of artwork  to correspond with the story. They are truly  interesting, enriching, and just plain cool additions to the narrative.

My complaints about this novel are small. I didn’t see the need for any kind of love interest in this story. Just once, I  would like a novel to be about a girl coming into her own without some love story to make her feel validated. And while I sometimes was bogged down with the political commentary, Stevenson’s mastery of narrative structure ensures this book as a viable part of the English classroom.

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