November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Our Bodies, Our Shelves | SLJ Spotlight

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Human sexuality, reproductive health, gender, and sex: these subjects are more topical than ever. The constant barrage of information can be bewildering, but these recent offerings make complex topics accessible and ensure that teenagers will be informed about issues that affect them. Amber J. Keyser’s The V Word is a thought-provoking and honest collection of pieces about virginity that challenges assumptions about sexuality. Two titles from Lerner, Feminism and Reproductive Rights, provide comprehensive treatments that will get students thinking about civil liberties and social justice.

Higgins, Nadia Abushanab. Feminism: Reinventing the F-Word. 112p. bibliog. chron. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Twenty-First Century. Mar. 2016. lib. ed. $35.99. ISBN 9781467761475. Higgins.Feminism_Reinventing the F Word

Gr 6 Up –Young people interested in learning more about the history of women’s rights in America will gain much from this well-written review of feminism. Higgins discusses the negative connotation attached to the concept, following up with a detailed explanation of the goals and theories behind modern-day feminism. She then takes readers on a historical journey through the three waves of feminism and covers suffrage, abortion rights, forced sterilization, and the demand for equal rights. Higgins also touches on how the newest incarnation of feminism seeks to expose how race, class, ability, age, and sexual orientation affect the female experience. Wage gap issues, violence against women, and unrealistic beauty standards are all reviewed in separate chapters, supported by photographs and statistics that amplify the impact of the heavy topics. Higgins concludes by considering how young feminists might move forward in the digital age. Ample back matter encourages readers to seek out information and take action. This informative, impeccably researched investigation of the history of feminism will do more than fill a collection gap—it firmly emphasizes that feminism and feminist are not dirty words. VERDICT A highly recommended first purchase.–Abby Bussen, Muskego Public Library, WI

Keyser, Amber J., ed. The V-Word: True Stories About First-Time Sex. 208p. further reading. notes. websites. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Feb. 2016. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781582705224; pap. $10.99. ISBN 9781582705217.Keyser, Amber.The V-Word

Gr 10 Up –All too aware that often media and pop culture messages about sex and virginity are at best inaccurate and at worst dangerous, Keyser has compiled 17 essays from female authors—straight, gay, bisexual, and transgender—about their first time having sex: the good, the bad, the ugly, and, of course, the awkward. The experiences range from a wedding night to a spontaneous but tender hookup to an alcohol-fueled one-night stand. The writing varies, but all of the authors express genuine and heartfelt emotions. While there is a fair amount of explicit content, the tone is less sultry and more contemplative. Keyser prefaces each piece with a brief introduction that teases apart themes such as gender identity and sexual autonomy. The book concludes with information on topics such as consent, body image, and masturbation, all presented in a way that reflects the editor’s progressive mind-set. Appended is an interview between Keyser and contributor, former librarian, and editor Kelly Jensen, who offers many examples of YA novels with rich depictions of female sexuality. Although there’s a wealth of thought-provoking content here, Keyser is never preachy, and teens will come away feeling as though they’ve spent time in the company of a smart and self-assured but gentle and reassuring older sister or friend. VERDICT A strong addition to sex ed shelves and a much-needed perspective on teenage sexuality.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Wittenstein, Vicki Oransky. Reproductive Rights: Who Decides? 160p. bibliog. chron. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. maps. notes. photos. websites. Twenty-First Century. Mar. 2016. lib. ed. $38.65. ISBN 9781467741873.Wittenstein,Vicki Oransky. Reproductive Rights Who Decides

Gr 9 Up –Examining the history of reproductive rights from ancient to modern times, this latest entry in the discussion on contraceptive choice serves as a brief yet informative primer for readers seeking information on the subject, and it does so with very little authorial bias. Rather than belaboring the ethical and moral implications generally associated with this hot-button topic, Wittenstein adeptly chronicles its evolution in terms of the various social, economic, legal, and political developments that have shaped our notions of identity and proper social roles for women, allowing teens to come to their own conclusions. Although primarily focused on Western cultures, the book does include examples from around the world, which serve as a reminder that reproductive rights are more than just an affluent nation’s dilemma. This is a global issue that encompasses everything from access to (affordable) contraception and medical care to population control. Accompanying sidebars, historical photos and reproductions, and graphic organizers such as maps and charts complement the well-researched narrative, and the extensive back matter provides an abundance of material for deeper exploration. Although there are a few misspellings, this is a solid overview of a multifaceted and complex subject. VERDICT Well written and impeccably researched, this volume will appeal to budding activists and feminists and to those concerned about human rights.–Audrey Sumser, Kent State University at Tuscarawas, New Philadelphia, OH

These reviews were published in the School Library Journal January 2016 issue.

Mahnaz Dar About Mahnaz Dar

Mahnaz Dar (mdar@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor for Library Journal and School Library Journal and can be found on Twitter @DibblyFresh.

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