I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson, Ellen Hagan
Published by Bloomsbury YA on 12th February 2019
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Jasmine and Chelsea are sick of the way women are treated even at their progressive NYC high school, so they decide to start a Women's Rights Club. They post everything online—poems, essays, videos of Chelsea performing her poetry, and Jasmine's response to the racial macroaggressions she experiences—and soon they go viral. But with such positive support, the club is also targeted by online trolls. When things escalate, the principal shuts the club down. Jasmine and Chelsea will risk everything for their voices—and those of other young women—to be heard.
Watch Us Rise was provided to me by Netgalley, and I was drawn to it because the premise reminded me of The Hate U Give. I will say that this book doesn’t have the same elegance that The Hate U Give had. I thought that Watch Us Rise got to be quite preachy at times, and it was a struggle to read it sometimes. I loved the relationships and friendships that were running throughout all the story and the plot, especially with the father-daughter relationship and the difficulties that were happening with that sub-plot.
I will say that alongside that I didn’t quite understand the reasoning behind the illness that plagues Jasmine’s life, purely because it didn’t seem to make a huge difference to anything that happened in Watch Us Rise. I wanted there to be more of a catalyst effect for something to have changed because of the tragedy and the circumstances that surround that. I just feel that there was a lot of missed potential with this part of the story. Plus it felt as though it was brushed over a lot of the time and I just felt a little underwhelmed with how it was dealt with.
One thing that did really annoy me about this book was how preachy it was at time. It made me cringe and I think it disconnected me from the story and the characters. Now that isn’t to say that I’m not onboard with everything this book is trying to do, I just think it goes about it the wrong way. I don’t know whether Watch Us Rise has the intended effect because personally I think it misses the mark a little. I don’t know if people reading this book would be more put off with the story than understanding of where it was coming from.
I really wanted to love Watch Us Rise and I really wanted to get on board with what they were trying to do. But for me as a reader I just felt a huge disconnect with the characters and the storyline. There was a lot of potential within the story but I feel it was missed in the attempt to make this book as “feminist” as possible. I would have preferred for there to have been more development with the characters and the story and have less preaching moments.
I don’t think I would recommend Watch Us Rise, I think if you were looking for a political read The Hate U Give is definitely a better read. I think that this book is unfortunately a little on the immature side and it overreached in ways that didn’t have the development to back it up.
Would Watch Us Rise be the type of book you would read? Let me know in the comments.
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