Charisma is a high schooler with "anger issues". She's a latch key kid who has responsibilities at home that keep her from being just a kid. She feels belittled at school by fellow students and teachers. At school her anger leads her to physical and verbal confrontations and fights that routinely put her in the hands of the resource officer (who has no problem using force) and leads her to the principals office. Repeatedly. When the principal realizes that suspensions and expulsions aren't working, he brings in school counselor, Ms. Anderson.
Ms. Anderson introduces Charisma to the concept of Restorative Justice, and introduces Charisma to literature by black writers such as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and Audrey Lorde. She sees in Charisma something she does not see in herself- the capacity for leadership and ability to identify injustice around her and the willingness to fight for it. She also invites Charisma to participate in an after-school social justice group. Charisma is able to take what she is learning and uses her agency and passion to address real change and acts of environmental and social justice in her community.
The artwork of this graphic novel is delicious! Bold lines and contrasts, the way color is used to express emotion, place and dream. The way faces are drawn, the representation of the specific community this book represents, all of this felt original and specific. I loved how Charisma uses her passions, her intelligence, her anger and her joy to transform herself and the world around her. It gave real and relatable instances of racialized environmental justice issues, as well as shows how restorative justice contrasts
the western system of punishment. I would highly, highly recommend this novel as an example of a teen coming into their power in an authentic and realistic way.
Check out the other Teen Picks of the Month!
Every month the SCCLD Teen Librarians choose one book as a great read from the library's Teen collection. This is the list of the latest picks of the month.